The artificial structure of the synthetic hooks makes it possible to create precise devices for monitoring plants. Now scientists from the Italian Institute of Technology are turning in their favour. According to the November issue of Communications Materials, they have developed the first biodegradable Velcro tape — inspired by climbing plants — to build small devices to help monitor crop health and deliver pesticides and drugs for use as needed. p>
The creator of Velcro was a Swiss engineer named Georges de Mestral who combined his love of invention with his passion for the great outdoors. After graduating from high school, he worked as a machine builder for a Swiss engineering company. In 1948, De Mastral took a two-week break from work to hunt birds. While walking his Irish Pointer in the Jurassic Mountains, he came across a catfish, which was relentlessly clinging to his dog's clothes and fur. p>
This stubborn bead was very difficult to separate. The horns de Mestral was fascinated with the way they were made and examined a number under a microscope. Note that the outside of each hole was covered with hundreds of small hooks that were set into rings of thread or in the case of fur dogs. This gave him an idea for a similar prosthetic. p> Hook and loop zoom, better known by the brand name Velcro, was invented by a Swiss engineer named Georges de Mestral in the 1950s. iStock / Getty Images
Most textile experts he spoke to in Lyon, France, then the global center of the textile industry, were skeptical of the idea. But one weaver shared de Mestral's love of invention. Working manually on a small knitting machine, he managed to weave two strands of thread that were tied with the same strength as crocodiles. De Mestral named the invention Velcro, which is derived from the French words VELours ("velvet") and CROchet ("hook"). The brand name was officially registered on May 13, 1958. At that time, De Mastral quit his job at an engineering company and received a $150,000 loan to complete the idea and create his own company to produce his new hook and loop packages. The Velcro promotion, officially introduced in 1960, was not immediately successful, although NASA found it useful in getting astronauts in and out of massive spacesuits. Eventually, manufacturers of children's clothing and sportswear realized these opportunities, and soon the company sold more than 60 million yards of Velcro annually, becoming a De Mestral millionaire. He died in 1990, and nine years later he was inducted into the National Inventors Hall of Fame. Games like darts are safe for children. She even helped preserve a human heart in the first artificial heart transplant. The "stickiness" comes from its structure: Examine two strips of Velcro under a microscope, you will see that one has microscopic loops, and the other has small hooks that attach to the loops to close tightly. p> Enlarge/SEM image of weed leaves. Small hooks on their leaves allow them to rest on the surfaces of other plants as they grow and use them for physical support. Monitor plants on site for disease diagnosis, as well as delivery of various materials to plants. However, a small number of these devices can be attached directly to the plant without harming the leaves. The current best options are sensors attached with adhesives or chemical clips. Microneedle-based patches that can penetrate leaves are also being developed to diagnose disease. p>
Fiorello et al. He found inspiration in the common grass plant (Gallium aparin). They can create dense, tangled mattresses on the ground, and while the plants can grow up to six feet in height, they cannot stand on their own and should use other plants for support instead. To this end, the authors write, weeds rely on a unique parasite-like attachment mechanism such as the crackle to climb up on host plants, using microscopic hooks to mechanically attach to leaves. p>
The Italian team studied this problem closely. Structure the small hook, then use a high-resolution 3D printer to create the synthetic copies, using a variety of materials — including photosensitive, biodegradable materials made from a sugar-like substance called isomalt. Their artificial reproduction is quite capable of associating with many different plant species, just like their natural counterparts. Isomalt microcircles can adhere to the plant, adhere to the leaf vascular system, and dissolve in isomalt because it is soluble. https://cdn.arstechnica.net/wp-content/uploads/2021/11/velcro5.jpg 2x "> Zoom/Microcircuits designed for hacking. The cuticle makes the plant invasive in a way that allows the plants to be observed and treated. By attaching to the plant, isomalt hooks can attach to the vascular system of the leaves, and since isomalt is soluble, it dissolves inside. IIT-Istituto Italiano di Tecnologia
As an initial program, the team designed a device that can penetrate the plant's cuticle with minimal invasiveness, allowing the plant to be monitored and treated if necessary. Isomalt microcircles adhere to the leaf vascular system and then dissolve internally when isomalt dissolves. Controlled release of pesticides, germicides or drugs onto leaves. This significantly reduces the need for widespread use of pesticides. And since the plaster dissolves after application, there is no additional waste. p>
The team also printed hooks made of photosensitive resin and outfitted them with sensors to collect light, temperature, and humidity to make them smart. Clips to enable wireless monitoring of factory temperature. The clamps are attached to individual sheets and, thanks to dedicated computer software, transmit data wirelessly. p>
The prototype is windproof and can be measured in real time for up to 50 days. These devices can be used for plant applications on a small scale or can be enlarged. For example, according to the authors, farmers could distribute several of these devices to better map and monitor large areas of cultivation. p> were collected. These smart clips create wireless plant monitoring through both sides of the leaf. src="https://safirsoft.com/picsbody/2112/12779-4.jpg" alt="https://safirsoft.com Scientists inspired herbal plant to make biodegradable Velcro tape" srcset="https://cdn.arstechnica.net/wp- content / uploads / 2021/11 / velcro4.jpg 2x "> enlarge / Hooks printed in photosensitive resin can be assembled with electronic devices and sensors for light, temperature and humidity. Creates smart clips for wireless plant monitoring through both sides of the paper. IIT-Istituto Italiano di Tecnologia
Finally, Fiorello et al. devised a small robotic system that was able to move in small steps on the surface of leaves and copy the rattle-like motion of herbivores.Similar stimulating mechanisms had already been demonstrated in a Stanford University SpinyBot robot—capable of climbing hard surfaces And soft thanks to a set of miniature spines on its legs - and the University of California - Berkeley's CLASH robots, capable of climbing hanging cloth surfaces like curtains The IIC microbot relies on a multiphase actuator of a soft-liquid that is remotely guided by an on/off cycle of an infrared laser. Close. “To our knowledge, this is the first plant-inspired machine with proof-of-concept capability capable of annealing leaf-like reversible dynamic anchors,” the authors wrote, although their soft robotics is purely intended. turns out. To ensure the performance of such devices in natural environments, such as maneuvering through dense vegetation in different climatic conditions, many obstacles must be overcome.
“Our studies always begin with an observation of nature and we strive to do so. Replicate strategies followed in life.” says Barbara Mazolay, Deputy Director of Robotics at IIT, who heads the IIT-inspired Soft Robotics Laboratory. Through this latest research project, We also demonstrated that innovative solutions can be created to not only monitor the health of our planet, especially plants, but also to do so without changing it.
DOI: Communications Materials, 2021. 10.1038 / s43246-021-00208-0 (About DOIs).Video from the Italian Institute of Technology.
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