Pizza Tossing Art Unlocks Secrets

The team from Monash's Micro/Nanophysics Research Laboratory first videotaped a professional pizza tosser at work. Then they calculated how best to describe the way the dough travels through the air – including how much the dough rotates, how quickly it spins, its stability and the energy efficiency of the toss itself.

The model could help researchers to design the next generation of standing wave ultrasonic motors (Swums), which operate on similar principles as pizza tossing.

In these electric motors, the fixed component, the stator, is made to vibrate ultrasonically, and this causes the moveable part, the disc-like rotor, to be "tossed" – both rotated and lifted.

"The Swum works exactly like a pizza chef tossing dough, with the hands representing the vibrating stator of the Swum and the dough representing the rotor. The difference is only in the details: a chef tosses dough, about once a second, a few tens of centimetres into the air. A Swum tosses the rotor a few million times a second into the air," Associate Professor James Friend explained.

"Some of the maths is a bit tricky," Dr Friend said. "The most puzzling questions with Swums are answered in the study. We think that further investigation of the work will prove fruitful for the understanding and design of Swums."

The scientists are the same principals who recently developed the world's smallest useful motor, only a quarter of a millimetre wide, that could be used in the propulsion system of miniature machines to swim through the bloodstream to inaccessible places, potentially revolutionising future surgical procedures.; Source: Monash University