Can you imagine liquid droplets could connect two moving parts without any solid contacts? Yup! That’s what we shall discuss today in this blog topic. Another innovative idea for your mechanical engineering project for the semesters.
Researchers in MIT (Massachusetts Institute of Technology) developed an approach to use liquid droplets to link two moving parts without any solid contacts. A breakthrough innovation which makes several things possible in the field of MEMS (Micorelectromechanical Systems).
Te mentions, MEMS are tiny machines designed for industrial uses in electronic industry like manufacturing of chips and rerlated components. As wear and failure of small machines is a big issue. Since the connections between two moving parts are very tiny in such machines they fail easily. By finding an alternative approach to such solid connections; the industry is taking a huge raise.
The applied principle in this approach is very common. It is known that certain surfaces tend to repel water while others attract. The water droplets on a hydrophobic surface tend to stay there while those on a hydrophilic surface tend to spread evenly. In case of the former, the height of a water droplet will be much larger than a droplet in the latter case. By altering this water -water repulsion or attracting qualities; the water droplets could be moved.
In case of certain dielectric surfaces the above qualities could be altered by passing small amount of electricity. Then you will get a water droplet that changes its shape and size when you change or flip a switch. To say, the concept is nothing new but the researchers had the idea to put it in for a practical application like moving a platform. They put a tiny platform on top of two water droplets and changed its height by changing the flow of electricity to the platform on which they are placed. The same method could be applied to move the droplets from one position to another or tilt them. And a simple experiment made a gateway to a new era of MEMS.
Avoiding wear and failure in MEMS machines are advantages of this experiment and also proves as a method to make precise movements. The initial experiments will help control the platform with a precision of 10 microns. This has nice scope in many industries where precise movements are needed, for instance laser related experiments.
Another advantage is that it is vibration resistant when compared to solid connections. As the experiment is very simple; we can speculate that it wouldn’t be long before when we see them in real world applications.
Hope you liked this discussion. You can look after many videos to get a practical insight for the same.