Monday, November 8, 2010

current progress on smart surfaces ferrofluid

The last project which focused on creating small modular unit to replicate the behavior of fish in a shoal was unsuccessful. The experiments I did with covering space on a window were very similar to another groups efforts and were not conclusive that the effect would be interesting or efficient. The rest of the group also became unconfident that the track and rail idea would work. The track device we prepared for our presentation was very incomplete and was both autonomically and mechanically unsuccessful. Given these failures we had a soul searching session with the professors and tried to find some inspiration and some common ground within the group. Eventually we settled on a medium to work with, ferrofluid, and I think with this parameter we have begun making forward progress again. It is still not easy, some of the group member still occasionally look back to old projects and their advantages rather than working with this idea. With some reinforcement and momentum within the group I think the backtracking will stop and we will get into a creative groove again.

We have begun getting potential core shapes together, made an acrylic box, attempted two types of ferrofluid and are beginning to get an overall picture of what this may look like.

The ferrofluid with toner isn't looking good, were giving up on that.

The ferrofluid made by etching steel wool then precipitating it into a ferrofluid with kerosene and ammonia was attempted but unsuccessful. This is likely due to the lack of any readily available oleic acid or ascorbic acid at 8 o'clock. The acid is necessary in the method to prevent clumping of the microscopic iron particles. We tried it with crushed up vitamin c, it didn't work. I will get some oleic acid at Ann Arbor Chemical tomorrow and we will try again. For now though we are buying a liter of professionlly made ferrofluid, it will cost us 200 dollars to get in time.

As for the cores we have some large bolts and nails that work when within a part of a common appliance transformer, the high coil density side. I will explain tomorrow with pictures, but basically I smashed a transformer, removed the core and took out the solenoids.

I would like to see more action to the cores, static cores will not do for my smart surface. I am now considering moving the solenoid along or withing the core, using shielding to mute certain areas on the core selectively, or using flexible core materials (either springs or bendable metal) to react to the weight of the climbing ferrofluid.

Our old biomimetic story is represented in this project by the density, movement, and translation of the tips in the magnetized fluid. many small tips can be made to come together into one large tip by weakening the magnetic field, as many small fish come together to make a shoal.

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