Alex Mazursky researches fluid to help people "feel" the digital world

Smart fluid lines up between two electrically charged plates

Smart fluid lines up between two         
electrically charged plates

Alex Mazurski presented his work with smart fluids at the Smart Structures and Nondestructive Evaluation Conference in Denver, Colorado.

So what is a smart fluid?

In Mazurski’s research, it is the fluid that exhibits different properties based on the electric fields going through the material. His fluid—a conductive particle suspended in silicone oil—becomes very viscous as a current runs through it. This is because, in response to electricity, the particles line up in the direction of the current.

This work can bridge the digital and physical worlds, because the changes in the fluid properties can be used for haptic feedback. A common application of this technology would be to let video game players “feel” what is occurring in their games, but another use would be for training simulations, such as medical students learning to perform surgery through a surgical simulation.

Mazurski, a fourth-year mechanical engineering student in the combined Bachelor’s/Master’s program, has been doing research on smart fluids with Jeong-Hoi Koo, associate professor in the mechanical and manufacturing engineering department, for two years. He also traveled to Korea with Koo last summer as part of the Engineering in Korea study abroad program, and he plans to go back this summer.

His work was published in the proceedings for the conference and he was invited to present his work.

“[The conference] was a fantastic opportunity to meet people further along in their research than me and hearing from them about the current state of smart materials,” Mazursky said.

In addition to working with the Korean Research Institute of Standards and Science (KRISS) this summer to help develop his work, Mazursky also plans to spend the next year creating a model to mathematically and parametrically optimize his fluid.

By Paige Smith