The scientific world is a very interesting community indeed. When they aren’t trying to come up with brand new and innovative ideas, members of the scientific community are trying to integrate what they see in nature into our society. By applying this exact principle, a team of researchers from Virginia Tech developed a new frost cancelling technology inspired by Namib Desert beetle.
This is one example of the majesty showed by the beautiful scientific process in all of its exalting glory.
It is exactly the reason behind a large number of scientists actually getting in their field of expertise. Many search for this white whale of scientific progress their whole lives without finding it. This particular team managed just that – adapting a process found in nature to be used by the worldwide population.
The fascinating Namib Dessert beetle is what stood behind the new invention, as the little critter has developed a very useful way of staying alive in the waterless dessert.
A coastal dessert in the inhospitable territory of southwest Africa, the Namib Dessert doesn’t really have any sources of water. Despite this fact, the beetle found a way to survive, and since all living things require water to survive, you know that he found a way to stay hydrated in the harsh environment.
Stenocara dentate, the fogstand beetle, or the Namib Dessert beetle, as the critter is called, has developed an evolutionary advantage that allows it to stay alive.
It has these tiny bumps on its shell, bumps that encourage tiny moisture droplets to form on it. By having a very smooth side, the moisture is repelled from it.
Combining the two features – the bumps which encourage water to be formed on its back and smooth sides which repel water – the beetle has sort of a canal system on its back, guiding water directly to its mouth.
This is how the team of scientists developed their new frost repelling technology.
The Virginia Tech team overlaid patterns that attract water on a smooth surface that repels water. This done via a chemical process named photolithography.
Usually, frost forms as little water droplets that freeze and expand as a sort of bridge to other nearby droplets.
So, by confining the droplets to small surface areas and preventing them from bridging the connection to other droplets, frost will be prevented.
The technology is still in development, with the team managing to create a dry zone around a chunk of ice, but the team is confident in their abilities.
Soon, when their technology is ready, they hope that it will be able to save tons of money, energy, and time by preventing the need for defrosting airplane wings and wind turbines.
Image source: Wikimedia