Top, a schematic shows the design of the liquid-infused dynamic material. The bottom two photographs show the dry and lubricated elastic substrates. (Source: Wyss Institute for Biologically Inspired Engineering)
This is fascinating stuff and is sure to bring countless number of uses. Having an open-air event and being able to control the air flow is quite handy. A good air flow when its sunny and a resistive material when its raining, and being able to do this any time at will is just magical.
Yes, this is definitely something that it's probably better to watch it in action to understand its impact. My Internet was wobbly yesterday when I tried to view the video. I'll give it a go again today and I'm sure I also will be impressed!
Well not exactly, far911. There's no self-learning here. The adaptability is not inherent in the system itself, once designed and created, but in the material's design. Engineers can use different materials that respond to different stimuli for different effects, as the article states.
This stuff seems quite strange to me. It almost looks like an organic material like a "skin" of some sort. I expect the real challenge will be to mechanically manipulate large, industrial-size bits of the material to get the desired effect. I found myself wondering if there are any systems in nature that emulate this effect?
Scott, that's an interesting question. The biological inspiration for this material system was human tears on the surface of the eye. As the press release says, "The new material was inspired by dynamic, self-restoring systems in Nature, such as the liquid film that coats your eyes. Individual tears join up to form a dynamic liquid film with an obviously significant optical function that maintains clarity, while keeping the eye moist, protecting it against dust and bacteria, and helping to transport away any wastes..." http://wyss.harvard.edu/viewpressrelease/109/