Next Generation Micro-fluidic Device That is Able to Generates Longer Power through Passive Hydraulic Pressure by MIT

The source of mobile electric power is always an issue in terms of cost and efficiency. The tiny piece of mobile power pump is hard to produce due to its low yield. In addition, the lifetime of the mobile power source can, in general, only last couple minutes to hours. It becomes the bottleneck of the growing of small robots. The researcher team at MIT now have discovered a new hydraulic propel power system that can last several days and is like to be the future source of power on tiny robots. The results have been published last week in Nature Plants.

This new mechanism of source power generation is inspired by the steam flow within tree. They called it “tree-on-a-chip,” which mimic the pumping process of trees and plants that passively generate the driving power for the transportation of substance inside. Its principle lies on the pressure of the substances of the xylem and phloem, which bring the nutrient from root to the leaves without external driver. Engineers mimic this mechanism in a chip that contains two primary layers, contains water and sugar source, that counterparts in the plants. And they found the steady flow between the two layers that are able to sustain for couple days. In addition, the device is made of cheap cost and easy to attach new layers if necessary. They thought that it would be an exciting step in this field of next generation mobile power pump.

As the emergence of the new technology such as robots, drones, and IOT (Internet Of Things) devices, our techniques of their power source are still lagged behind, which has already been a bottleneck for the mobile devices. The idea of passive power supply would be a great direction. The “tree-on-a-chip” utilized the pressure between sugar water and pure water due to the difference of concentration. It is definitely a proper direction not only because its low cost but low pollution. In terms of cost, the substance that is accessible can constitute the future power source by nature and everywhere. In terms of pollution, it is the natural substance, which has nearly no impact to our natural environment. This is another bio-mimic technology that also brings technology a new page. Think of deep learning that is from neural network, which the flow of data processing, is inspired by the signal transmission between neurons that is currently extensively being utilized by visual recognition. The feature extraction through convolution neural network behaves like the image capture by our retina, which outperform higher accuracy of recognition than ever. I would image that biological mimic signals processing would be dominate in the near future. Lots of challenges nowadays can be solved by the mechanism of nature.

In sum, if the tiny mobile power resource can be generated through “tree-on-a-chip,” lots of IOT device can thus be invented and its associative architecture can survive for no concern of power supply without producing pollution on living environment.