Monday, 26 December 2016

Movable Micro Platform Floats on a Sea of Droplets

The popularity of small consumer electronics and ever growing rise of their shipments has brought the need of bringing ever-evolving advancement in the technologies. The production of electronic chips and other devices rely on the microelectronic mechanical systems or commonly referred as MEMs which are essentially are tiny machines which help in enhancing the abilities of those electronic devices.

A team of researchers at MIT had come up with an innovative way of ensuring that the movable part of the machine doesn’t get in touch with each other. This will ensure the major source of wear, tear and eventually failing of the electronic device. In this new invention a layer of liquid droplets were used to support a tiny yet movable platform which helps floating the droplets at top of it.

The movement of the platform can easily be controlled effectively and it can also be utilized to alter the dimensions of the droplets by raising, lowering as well as tilting the platform. Their finding has been published in Applied Physics Letters and it has been coauthored by MIT team which includes Daniel Preston along with six others.


How this new system works? 

In this system the droplets way of interacting with the below them is altered as per the need of the hour and it is governed by a scientific a characteristic which is called contact angle. The contact angle specifically helps in measuring how steep the edge of the droplet when it meets with the surface. The usage of droplets will help in tuning across a whole range of the device by applying variable voltage to the surface.

The research team behind this invention is filled with graduate students from MIT namely Ariel Anders and Yangying Zhu and an undergraduate student by the name DingRan Dai. Their work was extensively supported by the Office of Naval Research and the National Science Foundation.

How this droplet platform was created? 

Researchers came with a smart solution to maintain the position of droplets by allowing them to slide around through the treating the underside of the floating platform. Researchers have created the floating surface with small circles of hydrophilic material. But researchers have been able to get the droplets in their place by securely pinning it to the water attracting surface. This ultimately helps in keeping the platform securely.
During the initial testing of this device researchers found that they were able to keep the droplets in the vertical positioning up to the level of 10 microns.

The future application of the droplets

In practical this approach will help in offering simple and cost effective solution to the manufacturers which is great benefit over the existing techniques present in the industry. One of the assistant professors at Centre for Nano Science and Engineering present the Indian Institute of Science named Prosenjit Sen has further elaborated the best thing offered by the droplets is that it offers a degree of vibration isolation which is sorely missed in the solid stages.

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