Posted by on 30 July 2006 at 9:20 am  Uncategorized
Jul 302006

Medical researchers are developing a clever new drug-delivery device called the “roboscallop“:

A device that mimics a sea scallop — propelling itself by alternately sucking and blowing — could one day carry drugs to hard-to-reach parts of the human body.

“Our motor has no moving parts and can be powered remotely with no connecting wires,” says Claus-Dieter Ohl, a physicist at the University of Twente in the Netherlands who led the team that built the device.

The so-called “roboscallop” consists of a tube a few millimetres long and about 750 microns in diameter that is closed at one end and contains a bubble of air. Submerging the tube in fluid and bombarding it with sound waves causes the bubble to expand and contract, alternately sucking and blowing liquid from one end of the tube. The process generates thrust because fluid enters the tube from a wide angle but is expelled as a narrow jet.

“It’s how a scallop moves,” explains team member Rory Dijkink. “When you watch our device, it looks as if it is making two steps forward and one step back.”…

Because the roboscallop is powered by sound waves, it needs no internal power source or connecting wires. “You could drive one inside the human body by placing the skin in contact with a loudspeaker,” says Ohl. The sound needed to drive the device is loud but bearable, the researchers say.

Anyone who’s seen Greg Salmieri’s eerily realistic imitation of a value-seeking scallop at his 2006 OCON course on Objectivist epistemology will know exactly how this works.

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