MIT researchers develop furry wetsuit inspired by beavers
Nature inspires everything manmade, and that inspiration isn’t going to die down. Researchers at MIT derive inspiration for a number of inventions from nature, and this research follows suite. Anette (Peko) Hosoi, a professor of mechanical engineering and associate head of the department at MIT along with co-authors Alice Nasto (lead author and graduate student) postdoc José Alvarado, and applied mathematics instructor Pierre-Thomas Brun are developing a wetsuit inspired by semiaquatic hairy mammals.
The idea struck them during a 2015 trip to Taiwan as they got intrigued by the complexity of the furs these animals have. They want to create wetsuits for surfers and athletes who have to move between dry air and water constantly. They created two layers of fur like surfaces to mimic the real fur of these animals and then tested it extensively. First of all they came up with molds of acrylic blocks and laser-cut thousands of holes in it, and then filled it with soft casting rubber PDMS (polydimethylsiloxane).
After a bit of experimentation the researchers came-up with a wetsuit material which repels water and also protects from heat loss.
Basically we found that the weight of the water is pushing air in, but the viscosity of the liquid is resisting flow (through the tubes). The water sticks to these hairs, which prevents water from penetrating all the way to their base.