Scientists and researchers have been intrigued by the patterns that appear on sand dunes and arc-shaped rocks. They have finally discovered a way of recreating patterns like these without using their hands. This is where technology comes in to emulate Mother Nature.
This is the work of the team at Aalto University. The project is to recreate intricate and complex shapes and landscapes without using hands. This will be achieved with the help of a vibrating plate and resulting energy fields. The results of the study are published in Science Advances.
The process involved using 100 particles of tiny metal balls like the ones used in soldering. They were distributed onto a silicon plate of 5x5cm. An algorithm and a camera made it possible for the researchers to mold the particles into the shapes of their liking. These included the letters of the alphabet created because of vibration in the plate that led to the formation of nonlinear energy fields.
‘We used the camera to determine the location of the particles, and the algorithm selected the most appropriate vibration frequency to move the particles in the desired direction. The particles move across the plate in a particular direction depending on the vibration frequency, and the same frequency can cause very different directions of movement in different parts of the plate,’ explains Professor Quan Zhou, who leads the research group behind the findings.
‘The movement of the particle swarm is like natural phenomena in which natural materials are shaped by the power of wind and water. The method should work at both smaller and larger scales and could have many future applications where using hands or tools is difficult,’ says Doctoral Candidate Artur Kopitca.
The team believes this technology has application in biosciences and industrial production. However, the scale of the technique and the coherence with different materials is still in question.