Flying microchip with wings to monitor air pollution and airborne diseases
Similar in size to a grain of sand, this flying microchip could one day monitor air pollution, track the spread of airborne disease and, of course, carry out surveillance. While its inventors at Northwestern University call it the “smallest flying structure ever created by man,” it is actually inspired by the propeller seeds falling from trees, catching the wind as they head. to the ground. From the northwest now:
By studying maple trees and other types of wind-dispersed seeds, engineers optimized the aerodynamics of the microflier to ensure that it – when released at high altitudes – falls at a slow speed in a controlled manner. . This behavior stabilizes its flight, ensures dispersion over a wide area and increases the duration of interaction with the air, making it ideal for monitoring air pollution and airborne disease.
As the smallest flying structures ever created by humans, these microfliers can also feature ultra-miniaturized technology, including sensors, power sources, antennas for wireless communication, and built-in memory for store data.
“Our goal was to add winged flight to small-scale electronic systems, with the idea that these capabilities would allow us to distribute highly functional miniaturized electronic devices to detect the environment for contamination monitoring, environmental monitoring. population or disease monitoring, ”said Northwestern’s John. A. Rogers who led the development of the device. “We were able to do this using ideas inspired by the organic world. Over billions of years, nature has designed seeds with very sophisticated aerodynamics. We have borrowed these design concepts, adapted them and applied them to the plates. -forms of electronic circuits. “[…]
But what about all electronic waste? Rogers has a plan for this. His lab is already developing transient electronic components that can safely dissolve in water when they are no longer needed, as recent work on bioabsorbable pacemakers has shown. Now his team uses the same materials and techniques to build microflyers that naturally degrade and disappear into groundwater over time.