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Free Surface pumping: from snails to beyond

Event Type
Mechanical Science & Engineering
4100 Sidney Lu Mechanical Engineering Building
Apr 18, 2023   4:00 pm  
Professor Sungyon Lee, Mechanical Engineering, University of Minnesota
Amy Rumsey
Originating Calendar
MechSE Seminars


The apple snail (Pomacea canaliculata) exhibits a unique feeding mechanism to collect food particles floating at the water-air interface. While underwater, it positions part of its flexible foot parallel to the water surface and generates rhythmic undulations that generate large-scale free surface flows. Inspired by this observation, we develop a simplified robotic snail that is able to generate large-scale pumping of a thin liquid on the free surface with periodic undulations. Our experiments show that the pumping rate has a non-monotonic dependence on the wave speed of surface undulations. We rationalize this surprising experimental observation with a 2D thin-film mathematical model that reproduces key features of the experiments.

 About the Speaker

Sungyon Lee is currently an Associate Professor of Mechanical Engineering at the University of Minnesota. She completed her Ph.D. and M.S. in Mechanical Engineering at Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and B.S. in Mechanical Engineering at University of California, Berkeley. Following a post-doc at Ecole Polytechnique and an adjunct faculty position in Applied Mathematics at University of California, Los Angeles, she was an assistant professor in Mechanical Engineering at Texas A&M University from 2013-2017. Dr. Lee's fluid mechanics research group specializes in reducing complex physical phenomena into tractable problems that can be visualized with table-top experiments and solved with mathematical modeling. The physical systems of interest range from drops and bubbles, particle-laden flows and interfaces, to two-phase flows through porous media. 

Host: Professor Gabriel Juarez

link for robots only