This New Metal Will Make Ships Unsinkable
Dhir Acharya - Nov 12, 2019
Talking about sinking ships, the most famous incident must be the accident of the Titanic. But that won't likely happen with this new metal.
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Talking about sinking ships, the most famous incident must be the accident of the Titanic that happened over a century ago. But now, inspired by ants, engineers have developed a new metal able to make a ship unsinkable, for real.
Fire ants can survive a long time under or on the water surface, they fuse their limbs together, forming a structure like a raft. This way, the air is trapped among their bodies, which are water-resistant, helping them stay afloat.
The engineers can achieve such flotation by using a laser to generate tiny patterns on the metal that traps air on the surface. Even if they force the metal to sink, it comes back and floats on the water.
University of Rochester’s Professor Chunlei, research lead, said that this technology could mean we would have an unsinkable ship or a flotation device that floats even after it’s punctured. We may even have electronic monitoring devices able to survive for a long time underwater.
The researchers were also inspired by Argyroneta aquatic spiders, which create dome-shaped webs to trap air from the surface and carry its legs and body, both of which are water-resistant. This is how the spiders breathe underwater, they only come to the surface for refilling.
This helps them get the air preserved in the metal so that even if it stays underwater for long, its structure would still have the capacity for holding air to make it float.
To do this, the engineers gave the inward-facing metal surfaces adequate space between tow surfaces, forming a bubble of air. As a result, the surface is superhydrophobic and is able to stay afloat even when it’s forced to go underwater.