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  1. Abstract

    Soft, worm-like robots show promise in complex and constrained environments due to their robust, yet simple movement patterns. Although many such robots have been developed, they either rely on tethered power supplies and complex designs or cannot move external loads. To address these issues, we here introduce a novel, maggot-inspired, magnetically driven “mag-bot” that utilizes shape memory alloy-induced, thermoresponsive actuation and surface pattern-induced anisotropic friction to achieve locomotion inspired by fly larvae. This simple, untethered design can carry cargo that weighs up to three times its own weight with only a 17% reduction in speed over unloaded conditions thereby demonstrating, for the first time, how soft, untethered robots may be used to carry loads in controlled environments. Given their small scale and low cost, we expect that these mag-bots may be used in remote, confined spaces for small objects handling or as components in more complex designs.

  2. Dynamic networks contain crosslinks that re-associate after disconnecting, imparting them with viscoelastic properties. While continuum approaches have been developed to analyze their mechanical response, these approaches can only describe their evolution in an average sense, omitting local, stochastic mechanisms that are critical to damage initiation or strain localization. To address these limitations, we introduce a discrete numerical model that mesoscopically coarse-grains the individual constituents of a dynamic network to predict its mechanical and topological evolution. Each constituent consists of a set of flexible chains that are permanently cross-linked at one end and contain reversible binding sites at their free ends. We incorporate nonlinear force–extension of individual chains via a Langevin model, slip-bond dissociation through Eyring's model, and spatiotemporally-dependent bond attachment based on scaling theory. Applying incompressible, uniaxial tension to representative volume elements at a range of constant strain rates and network connectivities, we then compare the mechanical response of these networks to that predicted by the transient network theory. Ultimately, we find that the idealized continuum approach remains suitable for networks with high chain concentrations when deformed at low strain rates, yet the mesoscale model proves necessary for the exploration of localized stochastic events, such as variability of the bondmore »kinetics, or the nucleation of micro-cavities that likely conceive damage and fracture.« less
  3. Fire ants ( Solenopsis invicta ) are exemplary for their formation of cohered, buoyant and dynamic structures composed entirely of their own bodies when exposed to flooded environments. Here, we observe tether-like protrusions that emerge from aggregated fire ant rafts when docked to stationary, vertical rods. Ant rafts comprise a floating, structural network of interconnected ants on which a layer of freely active ants walk. We show here that sustained shape evolution is permitted by the competing mechanisms of perpetual raft contraction aided by the transition of bulk structural ants to the free active layer and outward raft expansion owing to the deposition of free ants into the structural network at the edges, culminating in global treadmilling. Furthermore, we see that protrusions emerge as a result of asymmetries in the edge deposition rate of free ants. Employing both experimental characterization and a model for self-propelled particles in strong confinement, we interpret that these asymmetries are likely to occur stochastically owing to wall accumulation effects and directional motion of active ants when strongly confined by the protrusions' relatively narrow boundaries. Together, these effects may realize the cooperative, yet spontaneous formation of protrusions that fire ants sometimes use for functional exploration andmore »to escape flooded environments.« less
  4. Abstract. This study presents a characterization of the hygroscopic growth behaviour and effects of different inorganic seed particles on the formation of secondary organic aerosols (SOAs) from the dark ozone-initiated oxidation of isoprene at low NOx conditions. We performed simulations of isoprene oxidation using a gas-phase chemical reaction mechanism based onthe Master Chemical Mechanism (MCM) in combination with an equilibriumgas–particle partitioning model to predict the SOA concentration. Theequilibrium model accounts for non-ideal mixing in liquid phases, includingliquid–liquid phase separation (LLPS), and is based on the AIOMFAC (Aerosol Inorganic–Organic Mixtures Functional groups Activity Coefficients) model for mixture non-ideality and the EVAPORATION (Estimation of VApour Pressure of ORganics, Accounting for Temperature,Intramolecular, and Non-additivity effects) model for pure compound vapourpressures. Measurements from the Cosmics Leaving Outdoor Droplets (CLOUD)chamber experiments, conducted at the European Organization for NuclearResearch (CERN) for isoprene ozonolysis cases, were used to aid inparameterizing the SOA yields at different atmospherically relevanttemperatures, relative humidity (RH), and reacted isoprene concentrations. To represent the isoprene-ozonolysis-derived SOA, a selection of organicsurrogate species is introduced in the coupled modelling system. The modelpredicts a single, homogeneously mixed particle phase at all relativehumidity levels for SOA formation in the absence of any inorganic seedparticles. In the presence ofmore »aqueous sulfuric acid or ammonium bisulfateseed particles, the model predicts LLPS to occur below ∼ 80 % RH, where the particles consist of an inorganic-rich liquid phase andan organic-rich liquid phase; however, this includes significant amounts of bisulfate and water partitioned to the organic-rich phase. The measurements show an enhancement in the SOA amounts at 85 % RH, compared to 35 % RH, for both the seed-free and seeded cases. The model predictions of RH-dependent SOA yield enhancements at 85 % RH vs. 35 % RH are 1.80 for a seed-free case, 1.52 for the case with ammonium bisulfate seed, and 1.06 for the case with sulfuric acid seed. Predicted SOA yields are enhanced in the presence of an aqueous inorganic seed, regardless of the seed type (ammonium sulfate, ammonium bisulfate, or sulfuric acid) in comparison with seed-free conditions at the same RH level. We discuss the comparison of model-predicted SOA yields with a selection of other laboratory studies on isoprene SOA formation conducted at different temperatures and for a variety of reacted isoprene concentrations. Those studies were conducted at RH levels at or below 40 % with reported SOA mass yields ranging from 0.3 % up to 9.0 %, indicating considerable variations. A robust feature of our associated gas–particle partitioning calculations covering the whole RH range is the predicted enhancement of SOA yield at high RH (> 80 %) compared to low RH (dry) conditions, which is explained by the effect of particle water uptake and its impact on the equilibrium partitioning of all components.« less
  5. Free, publicly-accessible full text available June 29, 2023
  6. Abstract New particle formation in the upper free troposphere is a major global source of cloud condensation nuclei (CCN) 1–4 . However, the precursor vapours that drive the process are not well understood. With experiments performed under upper tropospheric conditions in the CERN CLOUD chamber, we show that nitric acid, sulfuric acid and ammonia form particles synergistically, at rates that are orders of magnitude faster than those from any two of the three components. The importance of this mechanism depends on the availability of ammonia, which was previously thought to be efficiently scavenged by cloud droplets during convection. However, surprisingly high concentrations of ammonia and ammonium nitrate have recently been observed in the upper troposphere over the Asian monsoon region 5,6 . Once particles have formed, co-condensation of ammonia and abundant nitric acid alone is sufficient to drive rapid growth to CCN sizes with only trace sulfate. Moreover, our measurements show that these CCN are also highly efficient ice nucleating particles—comparable to desert dust. Our model simulations confirm that ammonia is efficiently convected aloft during the Asian monsoon, driving rapid, multi-acid HNO 3 –H 2 SO 4 –NH 3 nucleation in the upper troposphere and producing ice nucleating particles thatmore »spread across the mid-latitude Northern Hemisphere.« less
    Free, publicly-accessible full text available May 19, 2023
  7. Aerosol particles negatively affect human health while also having climatic relevance due to, for example, their ability to act as cloud condensation nuclei. Ultrafine particles (diameter D p < 100 nm) typically comprise the largest fraction of the total number concentration, however, their chemical characterization is difficult because of their low mass. Using an extractive electrospray time-of-flight mass spectrometer (EESI-TOF), we characterize the molecular composition of freshly nucleated particles from naphthalene and β-caryophyllene oxidation products at the CLOUD chamber at CERN. We perform a detailed intercomparison of the organic aerosol chemical composition measured by the EESI-TOF and an iodide adduct chemical ionization mass spectrometer equipped with a filter inlet for gases and aerosols (FIGAERO-I-CIMS). We also use an aerosol growth model based on the condensation of organic vapors to show that the chemical composition measured by the EESI-TOF is consistent with the expected condensed oxidation products. This agreement could be further improved by constraining the EESI-TOF compound-specific sensitivity or considering condensed-phase processes. Our results show that the EESI-TOF can obtain the chemical composition of particles as small as 20 nm in diameter with mass loadings as low as hundreds of ng m −3 in real time. This was until nowmore »difficult to achieve, as other online instruments are often limited by size cutoffs, ionization/thermal fragmentation and/or semi-continuous sampling. Using real-time simultaneous gas- and particle-phase data, we discuss the condensation of naphthalene oxidation products on a molecular level.« less
  8. Abstract. New particle formation (NPF) is a significant source of atmosphericparticles, affecting climate and air quality. Understanding the mechanismsinvolved in urban aerosols is important to develop effective mitigationstrategies. However, NPF rates reported in the polluted boundary layer spanmore than 4 orders of magnitude, and the reasons behind this variability are the subject of intense scientific debate. Multiple atmospheric vapours have beenpostulated to participate in NPF, including sulfuric acid, ammonia, aminesand organics, but their relative roles remain unclear. We investigated NPFin the CLOUD chamber using mixtures of anthropogenic vapours that simulatepolluted boundary layer conditions. We demonstrate that NPF in pollutedenvironments is largely driven by the formation of sulfuric acid–baseclusters, stabilized by the presence of amines, high ammonia concentrationsand lower temperatures. Aromatic oxidation products, despite their extremelylow volatility, play a minor role in NPF in the chosen urban environment butcan be important for particle growth and hence for the survival of newlyformed particles. Our measurements quantitatively account for NPF in highlydiverse urban environments and explain its large observed variability. Suchquantitative information obtained under controlled laboratory conditionswill help the interpretation of future ambient observations of NPF rates inpolluted atmospheres.