- The project is a joint effort by University of London and the University of Stuttgard.
- The team utilized digital microscopes and then computer simulations to reconstruct intricate patterns geometrically.
- The overlapping areas on the surface of fish scales lead to a zigzag movement of the liquid that improved the water flow.
Scientists regularly turn to the animal world for inspiration, especially when they are working to improve the aerodynamic characteristics of aircraft. European scientists who study aerodynamic forces have discovered several interesting areas of future work, inspired by fish scales. Such structures can reduce the drag of aircraft by as much as 25 percent.
Not so long ago, the complex movements of locust wings prompted them to design more efficient aircraft wings. This is not the first time scientists find new innovation technology by observing our animal world.
In 2009 with the utilization of the wind tunnel and a high-speed digital video camera, the scientists captured the changes in the shape of the locust’s wings during flight and created, for the first time.
The computer model was able to recreate the airflow and thrust generated by their complex flapping movement. Modeling the aerodynamic secrets brings us a step closer to creating miniature robot flyers with the maneuverability and energy efficiency of an insect.
Furthermore, the authors of a new study worked conjointly. The project is betwixt the scientists from the University of London and the University of Stuttgard. They came up with the idea with the aid of the fish scales.
The group observed how the scales help fish move smoothly through the water. Fish are known to rely on highly developed arrays of tiny scales to minimize drag while swimming. After studying the surface topology of the scales of European sea bass and carp, scientists have discovered a unique and interesting dynamic.
Moreover, the team utilized digital microscopes and then computer simulations to reconstruct intricate patterns geometrically. It turned out that overlapping areas on the surface of fish scales lead to a zigzag movement of the liquid on contact. In turn, creates a “striped flow” that neutralizes the unstable oscillations that usually lead to Tollmien–Schlichting wave.
In fluid dynamics, a Tollmien–Schlichting wave is a streamwise unstable wave which arises in a bounded shear flow. It is one of the more common methods by which a laminar bounded shear flow transitions to turbulence. Ultimately, the zigzag movement and striped flow it produces reduces the scale’s friction resistance by more than 25%.
This effect was replicated in an array of fish scales attached to a plate inside a laminar water tunnel at the University of Stuttgart.
If this effect can be replicated by installing artificial grilles made of “scales” to the aerodynamic surfaces, they could play an important role in the development of a new generation of aircraft. Such cars will fly faster, while consuming less fuel.
Here is the research paper “Transition delay using biomimetic fish scale arrays” on their work.
Overall, the work is promising for the aerospace industry. However, there is still a lot of engineering work needed in order to bring the technology to the market. It could have civilian and military applications. At present, there are no concrete plan or dates of the possible market use.