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Fluid Dynamically Driven Assembly in Three Dimensions for Programmable Matter

[+] Author Affiliations
Michael Kalontarov, Mekala Krishnan, David Erickson

Cornell University, Ithaca, NY

Paper No. IMECE2009-10321, pp. 1491-1495; 5 pages
  • ASME 2009 International Mechanical Engineering Congress and Exposition
  • Volume 9: Heat Transfer, Fluid Flows, and Thermal Systems, Parts A, B and C
  • Lake Buena Vista, Florida, USA, November 13–19, 2009
  • Conference Sponsors: ASME
  • ISBN: 978-0-7918-4382-6 | eISBN: 978-0-7918-3863-1
  • Copyright © 2009 by ASME


In this work we describe our development of fluidic assembly of 3D blocks as an approach to achieving programmable matter. Devices made of this matter are assembled from small building blocks, and their shape and function can be reconfigured on demand. In our implementation of such a system small building blocks are assembled in parallel to create a target structure using fluid forces in a chamber. The building blocks are centimeter-scale cubes and are attracted to sinks within an assembly chamber. In effort to investigate the behavior of these blocks with respect to the sink numerical simulations and experiments were carried out. The simulation results indicated that blocks which align with the gravity field (due to an unbalanced mass distribution) are better suited for proper alignment during assembly. Experiments have shown that blocks can be attracted to an assembly site in a robust and timely manner. Blocks with the ability to interact geometrically have been experimentally tested and the assembly and rejection of a block at a given location has been demonstrated. Finally, several methods of making block assembly more repeatable have been proposed.

Copyright © 2009 by ASME



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