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Vibrations as a novel tool for particle self-assembly and regolith vibro-fluidization in space environments



Organisational Unit
Implementation progress
30 June 2022

Duration: 36 months


Particle self-assembly mechanisms and particle or droplet-based technologies (such as 3D-printing) are receiving an increasing interest due to their potential use for the production of new materials and/or structures at both small and large scales with virtually any shape. In the field of space exploration, it is essential to assemble and transport particles for various applications, for example transporting lunar and Martian soil (typically regolith), for mining, to study geological aspects and establish habitats on the Moon or Mars. The ability to synthesize complex materials directly in space or build specific structures on the surface of other planets is one the main challenges to be addressed in such a context. However, the lunar and Martian soils are difficult to handle, because they are made of abrasive and reactive materials. In the present project, novel strategies to handle particles based on “vibrations” will be explored. In microgravity, vibrations can be used as an alternate means to control the dynamics of solid particles dispersed in a liquid forcing them to self-organize and form specific three-dimensional complex structures (which can be used as backbones for special alloys or other materials). In the presence of a gravitational field such as that on the surface of Moon, there is potential to use vibrations to force regolith (which is characterized by strong internal inter-particle friction) to behave as a ‘fluid’ thereby making its transportation and utilization in the context of several applications much easier (e.g., 3D printing of infrastructures, and/or regolith utilization as a solid-support substrates for plant growth or for the extraction of O2 and H2). We aspire to extend this idea by combining theoretical, numerical and experimental work, and studying the ability of vibrations with different amplitudes and frequency to induce self-organization and/or “liquefaction” of regolith-type particles (simulants) for different levels of gravity.

Contract number
OSIP Idea Id
Related OSIP Campaign
Open Channel
Main application area
Generic for multiple space applications
Topical cluster
Vibrations as a novel tool for particle self-assembly and regolith vibro-fluidization in space environments