Biomimicry Of Pizza Tossing Leads To Physics Formula For Surgical Micro Robots
Scientists have been building swimming micro robots for years, but interestingly they all have different reasons for building them the same way. Now, researchers at Monash University in Australia have learned the physics of the micro motors, and they learned it by studying the perfect pizza toss!
Mr Daniel (Kuang-Chen) Liu, a PhD student at Monash University, worked with supervising professors James Friend and Leslie Yeo, from Monash's Micro/Nanophysics Research Laboratory. They videotaped a professional pizza tosser, tossing his dough. They then made a mathematical calculation that best described the way the dough travels through the air -- including how much the dough rotates, how quickly it spins, its stability and the energy efficiency of the toss itself.
"In brief, if you toss a pizza dough one toss at a time -- that is, if you toss then catch -- your hands should move in a helical fashion, like they are moving along a spiral, a curved line laid along a cylinder," Friend said. "If you are tossing the pizza continuously, not stopping to catch it and stop every time, then your hands should move in circles."
The mathematical model of this sequence could help researchers create the next generation of standing wave ultrasonic motors (SWUMs), which operate on similar principles as pizza tossing. With a better understanding of the underlying physics, the researchers hope to build new SWUMs to be used in neuro-microsurgery, wherein the SWUMs, no wider than a hair, would move through the bloodstream and perform surgeries in areas of the brain that are difficult to reach.
Friend and Leo were principal investigators of a Monash team that developed the world's smallest useful propulsion motors to "swim" to other parts of the body to perform surgeries.