Marangoni surfer robots look and move like water bugs

Hassan Masoud and his team, including doctoral student Mitchel Timm, built a robot that can manipulate surface tension to propel itself across the liquid surface with great speed and maneuverability.
Credit: Mitchel Timm/Michigan Tech

From birds in the sky to fish in the sea, nature’s creatures possess characteristics naturally perfected over millennia. Studying them leads engineers to create new technologies that are essential to our way of life today. Mechanical engineers from Michigan Technological University share how they built a tiny, self-powered robot inspired by water-skimming insects.

“Bio-inspired robotic technologies push the boundaries of what we think is possible when it comes to traveling on land, in the air and underwater,” said Hassan Masoud, an expert of biological and bio-inspired fluid mechanics at Michigan Tech. “Yet few robots focus on the air-water interface. Many biological organisms such as insects, arachnids and even bacteria have the ability to stand upon this boundary by taking advantage of surface tension.”

However, among these species, only a few can also manipulate surface tension to propel themselves across the liquid surface with great speed and maneuverability. Masoud and his team, including doctoral student Mitchel Timm, built a robot that can do this — and their work was recently published in Bioinspiration and Biomimetics.

They also wrote a guest blog for Michigan Tech’s Unscripted research blog detailing how their robot uses Marangoni propulsion, a method of generating thrust by creating surface tension gradients.

Journal: Bioinspiration & Biomimetics
DOI: 10.1088/1748-3190/ac253c
Method of Research: Experimental study
Article Title: A remotely controlled Marangoni surfer
Article Publication Date: 9-Sep-2021

Media Contact

Kelley Christensen
Michigan Technological University
kelleyc@mtu.edu
Office: 906-487-2863

Media Contact

Kelley Christensen
Michigan Technological University

All latest news from the category: Power and Electrical Engineering

This topic covers issues related to energy generation, conversion, transportation and consumption and how the industry is addressing the challenge of energy efficiency in general.

innovations-report provides in-depth and informative reports and articles on subjects ranging from wind energy, fuel cell technology, solar energy, geothermal energy, petroleum, gas, nuclear engineering, alternative energy and energy efficiency to fusion, hydrogen and superconductor technologies.

Back to home

Comments (0)

Write a comment

Newest articles

Creating good friction: Pitt engineers aim to make floors less slippery

Swanson School collaborators Kurt Beschorner and Tevis Jacobs will use a NIOSH award to measure floor-surface topography and create a predictive model of friction. Friction is the resistance to motion…

Synthetic tissue can repair hearts, muscles, and vocal cords

Scientists from McGill University develop new biomaterial for wound repair. Combining knowledge of chemistry, physics, biology, and engineering, scientists from McGill University develop a biomaterial tough enough to repair the…

Constraining quantum measurement

The quantum world and our everyday world are very different places. In a publication that appeared as the “Editor’s Suggestion” in Physical Review A this week, UvA physicists Jasper van…

Partners & Sponsors