Posted by on September 20, 2005 at 14:27:33:|
The two divers left for 6 hours in shark-invested waters near Australia's Great Barrier Reef this week would surely have welcomed the wetsuit being patented by Vladimir Vlad in the US.
The new suit takes advantage of the fact that sharks have sensitive receptors in their snouts which detect electrical fields in the water. This helps them track prey, but if the field is too powerful the shark backs off.
Made of metal and neoprene in the usual way, the wetsuit has thin piezoelectric ceramic fibres woven into its fabric. The fibres extend along the body and limbs, connecting to metal electrodes which harvest any charge generated when the piezo material is deformed by the wearer’s movement.
The voltage delivered by the fibres depends on their length and how many there are. During normal swimming, the suit continually generates several volts which flow through the water between the electrodes to create a deterrent field. If the diver sees an undeterred shark and swims fast to get away – a natural reaction, one suspects – the suit generates much higher voltages and stronger fields.
If the shark still fails to get the message and bites the suit, it gets a shock in the mouth and – hopefully – gives up for the day.
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