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14 Nov 2016
Conspiracy Theories
There is few flowers as well-known as the Edelweiss, but few would think to turn to this woolly white, Alpine flower to get a way to obtain technological inspiration. Now, however, scientist Jean-Pol Vigneron in the University of Namur in Belgium with his fantastic colleagues in Budapest, Meise and Stanford think they may have found that.

top secret information

Once the researchers investigated the micro-structure of Edelweiss flowers, last January, they were surprised to find a peculiar ultra-violet-absorbing structure from the dense white hairs, that go over the complete Edelweiss plant. The hairs are especially abundant for the modified silver-white leaves that from the Edelweiss's "flowers". Vigneron with his fantastic fellow scientists immediately pointed out that there would be described as a wide selection of commercial uses of synthetic versions in the structure, nevertheless the prospect of truly manufacturing Edelweiss-inspired structures seemed remote.

"We discovered that the top of every hair is covered in tiny, regularly spaced fibers, running parallel to each other down the whole leaf hairs," explains Vigneron. "Each fibre is merely 180 millionths of the millimetre in diameter. Due to their small size and highly regular arrangement, these fibres together constructed a structure, which absorbs ultraviolet light. It does not affect visible light whatsoever given it has longer wavelengths than ultraviolet, do i think the not disturbed through the structure. With mathematical modeling techniques, we were in a position to demonstrate that when ultraviolet waves fell on the structure, we were holding guided about it and finally absorbed, either within the walls in the hairs or, possibly by the material during the hairs."

The scientists could actually check their calculations through measurements of the way most of the sunlight falling on the silver-white Edelweiss leaves was reflected, and the way much was transmitted and undergone them. Sure enough, they discovered that little or no from the ultraviolet light falling for the plant was reflected or transmitted, instead, it absolutely was almost all absorbed with the hairs within the leaves, in the same way their mathematical model had predicted. The hairs manage to protect the guarana plant leaves beneath them from damaging U.V.A. radiation.

Ultraviolet radiation is best recognized for causing sunburn, snow blindness and skin cancer in people, it damages a variety of materials, including fabrics, paints and plastics. "Finding ways to absorb damaging ultraviolet radiation is a very common engineering problem," comments Prof Vigneron, " therefore we were excited to find out a plant that has created clever solution to this. We immediately thought this structure can be very useful for anti-U.V.-coatings for specialist car- and aircraft-paints, as well as sunscreens and anti-U.V. packaging materials. The challenge was the way to manufacture artificial fibres by using these minuscule diameters as those located in the Edelweiss." The scientists soon realized, however, that by copying the Edelweiss structure in glass, they may borrow manufacturing techniques made to make optics fibres and dramatically simplify the process.

Optic fibres are produced from large glass rods, called "preforms", a few inches long and about one in in diameter, that happen to be stretched ("pulled") at each side until a skinny fibre 10,000 times longer and correspondingly thinner is produced. Interestingly, the thin fibres have the identical shaped cross-section because the original rod, with an accuracy of a few percent. The researchers realized it would be very easy to copy the complete shape of the Edelweiss fibres and turned to their partners at the PHLAM laboratory in Lille, France, to go over the technical information producing prototypes. For that French laboratory ( which is assigned to a waveguide-developing company), the scientist's plans have proven surprisingly an easy task to carry out also it offers to begin creation of some artificial Edelweiss fibres in October.

Currently, most products offering protection against U.V. use tiny spherical "nanoparticles"of Titanium dioxide, that happen to be effective, but tend to be difficult to arrange on a surface. The project organizers hope the synthetic Edelweiss fibres will provide the same amount of UV protection because nanoparticles but be simpler to handle.


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