Material With Metasurface

By inserting a metamaterial sample on the floor of an object, the College of Minnesota researchers have been in a position to make use of sound to steer it in a sure path with out bodily touching it. Credit score: Olivia Hultgren

This contactless manipulation methodology has potential functions in industries together with robotics and manufacturing.

A staff of researchers on the College of Minnesota Twin Cities has uncovered a option to manipulate objects utilizing ultrasound waves, paving the best way for contactless motion in industries like manufacturing and robotics with out the necessity for an inside energy supply.

The findings have been revealed within the peer-reviewed journal Nature Communications.

While it’s been demonstrated before that light and sound waves can manipulate objects, the objects have always been smaller than the wavelength of sound or light, or on the order of millimeters to nanometers, respectively. The University of Minnesota team has developed a method that can move larger objects using the principles of metamaterial physics. 

Metamaterials are materials that are artificially engineered to interact with waves, like light and sound. By placing a metamaterial pattern on the surface of an object, the researchers were able to use sound to steer it in a certain direction without physically touching it. 

“We have known for a while that waves and light and sound can manipulate objects. What sets our research apart is that we can manipulate and trap much bigger objects if we make their surface a metamaterial surface or a ‘metasurface,’” said Ognjen Ilic, senior author of the study and the Benjamin Mayhugh Assistant Professor in the University of Minnesota Department of Mechanical Engineering. “When we place these tiny patterns on the surface of the objects, we can basically reflect the sound in any direction we want. And in doing that, we can control the acoustic force that is exerted on an object.”


A video of the researchers shifting an object with ultrasound. Credit score: College of Minnesota

Utilizing this method, the researchers can’t solely transfer an object ahead but additionally pull it towards a supply—not too dissimilar from the tractor-beam know-how in science fiction tales like Star Trek. 

Their methodology may show helpful for shifting objects in fields like manufacturing or robotics. 

“Contactless manipulation is a sizzling space of analysis in optics and electromagnetism, however this analysis proposes one other methodology for contactless actuation that provides benefits that different strategies might not have,” mentioned Matthew Stein, first writer on the paper and a graduate scholar within the College of Minnesota Division of Mechanical Engineering. “Additionally, exterior of the functions that this analysis permits, increasing upon our data of physics is only a very thrilling factor to do usually!”

Whereas this research is extra an indication of the idea, the researchers intention to check out greater frequencies of waves and completely different supplies and object sizes sooner or later. 

“In lots of fields of science and engineering, robotics particularly, there’s the necessity to transfer issues, to switch a sign into some type of managed movement,” Ilic mentioned. “Typically that is finished by way of bodily tethers or having to hold some supply of vitality to have the ability to carry out a activity. I feel we’re charting in a brand new path right here and exhibiting that with out bodily contact, we are able to transfer objects, and that movement could be managed just by programming what’s on the floor of that object. This provides us a brand new mechanism to contactlessly actuate issues.”

Reference: “Shaping contactless radiation forces by way of anomalous acoustic scattering” by Matthew Stein, Sam Keller, Yujie Luo and Ognjen Ilic, 1 November 2022, Nature Communications.
DOI: 10.1038/s41467-022-34207-7

The research was funded by the Minnesota Robotics Institute and the Air Pressure Workplace of Scientific Analysis.


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