There are almost no smooth surfaces in nature. To move more easily through air and water, sharks, seals, dolphins, fish and butterflies have developed microscopic structures on their surfaces that reduce friction – in some cases by up to 65 percent.
Researchers do not currently know how natural poroelastic surfaces work. Dr. Shervin Bagheri from KTH Royal Institute of Technology will, using 3D printers or UV lithography, develop surfaces that are like the natural ones and, using laboratory experiments, he will investigate how they affect air and water turbulence. To optimize the surfaces he will also conduct advanced computer simulations and develop new mathematical models that incorporate everything from the material’s microscopic structures, elasticity and smoothness, to how fluid flows in the layer above the surface.
The long-term aim is to be able to tailor a surface to the medium in which it will move. In the transport sector, reducing the amount of energy needed to overcome air and water resistance is important in achieving international and national climate targets.
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Read more about Shervin Bagheri at kth.se
Photo: Markus Marcetic