Tiny electronic fliers could float like seeds on the breeze to monitor the environment

A selection of microfliers imposed on top of their inspiration from nature: a propeller seed, used for dispersal by trees including maple, sycamore, and ash. | Image: F. Frankel When trees and plants disperse their seeds, they often rely on the wind to carry them to pastures new. Different seeds adopt different methods of flight: some glide through the air, others parachute to the ground, and some spin like helicopters on the breeze. For scientists, these aerodynamics have provided the inspiration for a new sort of airborne sensor — tiny fliers, some smaller than a grain of sand and others electronically equipped, that could, in the future, float into the atmosphere for tasks like environmental monitoring. Microfliers could be dispersed by drone to monitor atmospheric data These fliers, which range in size from around 40mm across (the largest) to 0.4mm across (the smallest), do not move under their own power.... Continue reading…

Tiny electronic fliers could float like seeds on the breeze to monitor the environment
A selection of microfliers imposed on top of their inspiration from nature: a propeller seed, used for dispersal by trees including maple, sycamore, and ash. | Image: F. Frankel

When trees and plants disperse their seeds, they often rely on the wind to carry them to pastures new. Different seeds adopt different methods of flight: some glide through the air, others parachute to the ground, and some spin like helicopters on the breeze. For scientists, these aerodynamics have provided the inspiration for a new sort of airborne sensor — tiny fliers, some smaller than a grain of sand and others electronically equipped, that could, in the future, float into the atmosphere for tasks like environmental monitoring.

These fliers, which range in size from around 40mm across (the largest) to 0.4mm across (the smallest), do not move under their own power....

Continue reading…