Researchers have developed a small, biodegradable flying chip that could change the way researchers collect data in the field.
People like to think big. But despite our natural fondness for the giant, a large part of our future undoubtedly takes place on the other side of the spectrum. A discovery that has been verified again thanks to the team of John A. Rogers, of Northwestern University, which has just been revealed in communication what you describe asSmallest flying device ever“.
These devices, less than a millimeter in size, are directly inspired by the seeds of some plants that are able to take advantage of the wind to travel long distances. To design it, the researchers began by analyzing several types of seeds. Objective: to find the optimal structure. They finally chose a rubber chassis with three concentric wings.
But despite its looks, it’s not. Not a small helicopter. He is unable to push himself to reach a certain point. Instead, it falls slowly and in a controlled manner. If we shoot a large amount at a height, these little devices will mechanically disperse, with the wind, to cover a large surface on the ground, like the seeds from which they were inspired. A fairly simple concept of “theft”, which fits Certainly in the simplest definition but it has nothing to do with a bird or an airplane.
small science umbrella
A concept that might sound curious. But in practice, it can be quite revolutionary. Because despite their light weight, these little machines are packed with electronics. The researchers were able to install different sensors, a food Semi-independent, 10 port of data storage, small pneumatic Able to transfer to any other device!
During the entire flight and even once on the ground, each captures a modest amount of data; It can then be collected in a huge database to analyze a phenomenon over a large area. Therefore, they constitute A squadron of real science paratroopers When posted en masse.
So it can be used in many Extensive field studies. Traditionally, this work is considered very laborious. Due to obtaining a large and coherent set of data, it is necessary to install and manage many sensors. And with every failed sensor, it’s the integrity of the final data that gets a hit. Therefore the proper functioning of the installation must be strictly monitored.
But these little flying machines could be a game changer. You just have to wait for the right weather conditions and then release a large amount each time. Then they distribute themselves over a large area and in a relatively balanced way. This allows researchers to obtain large amount of data, with one Excellent spatial accuracy. In addition, each individual failure is theoretically less harmful thanks to their number.
Very promising and biodegradable
This concept can have a lot of different applications. For example, researchers have already succeeded in accurately measuring air quality over a large area using this technology. This technique can be transferred to studies in hydrology, employment agronomy, employment climatology, employment City planning….
Obviously, you can’t help but frown at the first reading. Spreading thousands of microchips in the wild, right Deviation, in complete contrast to the environmental context ? Fortunately, this was the first question the research team wanted to solve. There is no doubt about the design of such a device without guaranteeing the ability to dispose of it afterwards. And the solution was already available to them.
Last July, we told you about a A potentially revolutionary, bio-soluble pacemaker; And it turns out that the director of the lab in question is none other than … John A. Rogers, the lead author of this study. So they recycled that concept. Their small flying machines consist of biodegradable materialsIncluding the electronic part! According to its authors, it is therefore completely harmless to the environment.
It is an approach that is still being proposed Many obvious logistics issues. You can’t imagine dropping a full load of it in an urban area, for example. But these little machines are also a file Great proof of concept. One day, they can help us with important questions, since today we are stuck due to lack of data. So it will be interesting to follow the potential impact of this post.
Study text available Here.
“Proud thinker. Tv fanatic. Communicator. Evil student. Food junkie. Passionate coffee geek. Award-winning alcohol advocate.”