Researchers at the University of Rochester have created what they consider metal to be “can't sink”, using small patterns engraved on its surface by laser to trap air bubbles in it. “Can't sink” maybe not the best word to use when talking about ships, but regardless of what we know about the Titanic tragedy, researchers at the University of Rochester have designed a new type of metal that actually floats no matter how much you try to push it underwater. This material even tries to stay afloat.
Anti Sinking Metal
Theory, which the researchers design at the nanoscale that allows it to trap air bubbles, theoretically it can lead to a ship that really can't sink or a perfect life buoy, menurut Chunlei Guo, a professor of optics and physics at the University of Rochester who co-authored a paper about new metals in the journal ACS Applied Materials and Interfaces. This research was funded by the Bill Foundation & Melinda Gates, US Army Research Office, and the National Science Foundation.
The shipbuilding industry can completely change if this material is accepted commercially. And that could mean the end of the sinking ship tragedy.
In the wild, there are many creatures - like spiders and fire ants - that can float or glide on the surface of the water for a long time, this is what inspired the researchers. But how do these animals do it?
The answer: They trap air bubbles. Profit- Argyroneta's aquatic earnings for example, can make underwater nets, shaped like a dome, fill it with air with superhydrophobic feet and stomach. Fire ants, in its section, create some sort “raft” by trapping air with their superhydrophobic bodies.
This is where we need to go back to middle school biology class for a moment. It is possible you remember some kind of term “hydrophobic” and “hydrophilic” if your teacher has ever spoken the Latin root of each word: “phobia,” which means fear, and “filatric,” which means showing love or liking. That's how you should remember if an ingredient matches water, how the teacher explains why oil and water do not mix; hydrophobic surfaces have barrier-like properties that cause it to resist water.
Look into the basic structure of cells, One of the first things we understand is that each contains a lipid bilayer to help keep the cell contents inside like perfect little bubbles. Double layer of lipids, consists of two pieces of fat cells, form cell membranes. It measures about five nanometers thick and is insoluble in water, like oil.
“Bilayer” shows there are two layers, Of course. Each layer contains fatty material with two important areas: hydrophobic tail, waterproof, and hydrophilic head, which plays a good role with water. Because the lipid head leads to the outside of the cell in one layer and inside the cell in the second layer, all tails are hidden in a double layer, making the entire structure impermeable to almost anything except water and gas without the help of other structures.
The material produced by Guo's laboratory is superhydrophobic metal, which basically means he does an extraordinary job of refusing water, making it possible for it to float. That's why researchers believe this metal has a future in shipbuilding.
In their paper, Guo and his co-authors note that “multifaceted superhydrophobic surfaces can trap large volumes of air, which leads to the possibility of using this surface to make floating devices.”
This is also not the first time superhydrophobic material has been used by sailors. The US Navy began testing superhydrophobic coating on submarine hull in the year 2018 which can improve fuel efficiency and make it quieter. The idea is a layer basically creates a layer of bubbles throughout the stomach, which helps reduce obstacles in the water. Make submarines even faster.
To make superhydrophobic, the researchers used lasers to sketch micro and nano scale patterns onto the surface of the structure. In particular, they used techniques that helped Guo develop back in years 2015, i.e. using lasers to make the material more waterproof than Teflon, which is usually used to make non-stick pans.
“Water falls to the surface and is rejected and bounces off the surface,” Guo explained in a university press video on YouTube. “This is achieved by creating unique surface structure patterns at the micro and nano scales with our laser processing technology.”
To create a pattern, which is part of the material itself, they use a femtosecond laser, which emits pulses of light for very short periods of time, to 10 ~ 15 seconds. as a result, it can trap air bubbles to help it expel water, like the spider and the fire ant. In this case, they use aluminum, but they note on paper that any metal can be used.
Guo and other team members hope this technology will be adopted commercially, but it will require a faster laser to create these patterns efficiently enough to make economic sense.
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