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Spiders and Ants Inspire Scientists to Create Metals that May Lead to Unsinkable Ship

According to a study, the device could be used to create a wide array of devices that will float on water despite being punctured.

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Updated:November 8, 2019, 1:47 PM IST
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Spiders and Ants Inspire Scientists to Create Metals that May Lead to Unsinkable Ship
(Reuters)

Diving bell spiders and fire ants have now inspired scientists to create a metal that is so water resistant that it could one day be used to manufacture ships that do not sink.

According to a study, conducted by the University of Rochester researchers, and published in ACS Applied Materials and Interfaces, the device could be used to create a wide array of devices that will float on water despite being punctured.

According to a report published in Daily Mail, the metal is created using short bursts of lasers to create tiny patterns on its surface that trap air and thus, even if it is forced to sink, it will continue to float as soon as the pressure is removed.

Speaking about the same, lead author of the study, Professor Chunlei Guo said that the discovery could lead to an unsinkable ship, wearable flotation device that will still float post being punctures or electronic monitoring devices that can survive long term in the ocean.

According to the report, the team took inspiration from fire ants that are able to survive for a long time under or on surface of water by joining their limbs to form a raft, which they use to trap air among their water-resistant bodies, keeping them afloat.

The team was also inspired by Diving Bell Spiders who create dome shaped webs that are filled with air from the surface and is carried between its water resistant legs and abdomen. The spiders use the air dome to breathe, only visiting the surface when it needs to refill.

Professor Guo used similar means in his metal structures that will allow them to hold enough air to be able to float when returned to the surface.

Accordingly, the researchers placed two treated metal surfaces facing inwards with just enough space to create a bubble of air. The surfaces were superhydrophobic and were able to keep water from entreating the central compartment even when the structure is forced underwater.

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