Scientists Create Microrollers: Grains of Sand that Defy Gravity
In a groundbreaking experiment, a team of scientists from Lehigh University has engineered tiny grains of sand called “microrollers” that have the extraordinary ability to climb up slopes against gravity when a rotating magnetic field is applied nearby. This unexpected discovery could have significant implications for numerous industries.
The lead author of the study, Samuel Wilson-Whitford, stumbled upon this phenomenon accidentally while studying microparticles. Sand, it turns out, is not as ordinary as it seems. The researchers found that when a rotating magnet was placed beneath microrollers, which are poly (methyl methacrylate) (PMMA) polymer particles coated with iron oxide, the magnet exerted torque on the microrollers. This torque caused the particles to gather and produce a cohesive force with a negative angle of repose, enabling them to climb upward.
The team explained that this unique property of sand allows the particles to work collectively and perform counterintuitive actions, such as flowing along walls and stairs. To further understand the collective movement of sand, the researchers are conducting more in-depth studies, looking at different rotation speeds and magnetic forces.
The implications of this discovery are far-reaching. It could pave the way for advancements in fields ranging from healthcare and material transportation to agriculture. The researchers believe that there is potential for applications in various industries, thanks to the extraordinary abilities exhibited by these microrollers.
The findings of this study were published in the journal Nature Communications, attracting significant attention from the scientific community. Researchers worldwide are intrigued by the capabilities of these microrollers and are eager to explore their full potential.
This experiment is a shining example of how even seemingly mundane materials like sand can possess remarkable properties that have yet to be fully understood. With ongoing research and experimentation, scientists hope to unlock the secrets of these microrollers and harness their capabilities for a wide range of applications.
(Image source: Nature Communications)
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