Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Cicada wings may inspire new surface technologies

03.08.2017

Researchers are looking to insects - specifically cicadas - for insight into the design of artificial surfaces with de-icing, self-cleaning and anti-fogging abilities.

Their wings allow cicadas to fly, of course, but they also are good at repelling water - a condition that humans can appreciate, too.


The wings of Megatibicen dorsatus, a prairie-dwelling cicada, are helping engineers design water-repellent surfaces.

Photo courtesy Catherine Dana

"Our work with cicadas is letting us explore a field called bioinspiration," said Nenad Miljkovic, a University of Illinois mechanical science and engineering professor who co-led a new study of cicada wings.

"We are learning as much as we can from the natural design of cicada wings to engineer artificial objects that are useful to humans."

The study, published in the journal Applied Materials and Interfaces, focused on the water-repelling ability of cicada wings. The research team of engineers and entomologists used high-speed microscopic photography to study the wings' ability to repel water.

"The property that allows a surface to repel water is called hydrophobicity and it causes water to bead up and roll away," Miljkovic said. "Superhydrophobicity is simply an extreme form of this property and cicada wings that have this feature have a rough nanotexture that creates open spaces around water droplets, allowing surface tension to force the droplets to jump off of the wings."

A video related to this research can be found here.

Past cicada-wing studies have focused on a single species. However, nature is variable, and the team wanted to take a comparative approach to represent this variability.

"Traditionally, the idea would be to collect cicadas that live in wetlands to study wing hydrophobicity," said Marianne Alleyne, an entomology research scientist and a co-lead on this study. Such studies are based on the assumption that wetland-dwelling cicadas have the most water-repellant wings.

"We wanted to test this hypothesis, so we collected four different species - one found in wetlands, one from forests, one from prairie lands - all annual cicadas - and one periodic seventeen-year cicada," Alleyne said.

"We expected to find that the specimens from drier habitats would lack superhydrophobicity," said Catherine Dana, an entomology graduate student and study co-author. "We were surprised to find the opposite, and that habitat is not a good predictor of this extreme water-repelling ability of the cicada wings."

It turns out that other factors may be better predictors of superhydrophobicity, such as differences in species life cycles - annual versus perennial varieties, for example - and species relatedness.

"This is something that we, as engineers, probably would not have figured out on our own," said Junho Oh, a mechanical engineering graduate student and study co-author. "Working with biologists allows us to get a better understanding of how cicadas live and evolve, which better informs us of how to truly bioinspire for mechanical engineering applications."

"This research is an excellent example of the strength of bringing together disparate fields to study and understand natural systems," said Don Cropek, an analytical chemist from the Energy Research Development Center-Construction Engineering Research Lab, who is a co-leader of this research project. "We have a great multidisciplinary team from analytical chemistry, mechanical engineering, entomology and materials science that promises to replicate natural structures like insect wings to make surfaces with enhanced properties."

###

This is the first of several cicada-wing bioinspiration studies to be conducted in collaboration with ERDC-CERL. The work is supported by the Army Basic Research Program. Je Won Hong and Jonah Nguyen from U. of I. and Kyoo Jo, Jessica Roman, and Sungmin Hong from ERDC-CERL are also co-authors of this work.

Media Contact

Lois E Yoksoulian
leyok@illinois.edu
217-244-2788

 @NewsAtIllinois

http://www.illinois.edu 

Lois E Yoksoulian | EurekAlert!

More articles from Materials Sciences:

nachricht Thanks for the memory: NIST takes a deep look at memristors
22.01.2018 | National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST)

nachricht Let the good tubes roll
19.01.2018 | DOE/Pacific Northwest National Laboratory

All articles from Materials Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Artificial agent designs quantum experiments

On the way to an intelligent laboratory, physicists from Innsbruck and Vienna present an artificial agent that autonomously designs quantum experiments. In initial experiments, the system has independently (re)discovered experimental techniques that are nowadays standard in modern quantum optical laboratories. This shows how machines could play a more creative role in research in the future.

We carry smartphones in our pockets, the streets are dotted with semi-autonomous cars, but in the research laboratory experiments are still being designed by...

Im Focus: Scientists decipher key principle behind reaction of metalloenzymes

So-called pre-distorted states accelerate photochemical reactions too

What enables electrons to be transferred swiftly, for example during photosynthesis? An interdisciplinary team of researchers has worked out the details of how...

Im Focus: The first precise measurement of a single molecule's effective charge

For the first time, scientists have precisely measured the effective electrical charge of a single molecule in solution. This fundamental insight of an SNSF Professor could also pave the way for future medical diagnostics.

Electrical charge is one of the key properties that allows molecules to interact. Life itself depends on this phenomenon: many biological processes involve...

Im Focus: Paradigm shift in Paris: Encouraging an holistic view of laser machining

At the JEC World Composite Show in Paris in March 2018, the Fraunhofer Institute for Laser Technology ILT will be focusing on the latest trends and innovations in laser machining of composites. Among other things, researchers at the booth shared with the Aachen Center for Integrative Lightweight Production (AZL) will demonstrate how lasers can be used for joining, structuring, cutting and drilling composite materials.

No other industry has attracted as much public attention to composite materials as the automotive industry, which along with the aerospace industry is a driver...

Im Focus: Room-temperature multiferroic thin films and their properties

Scientists at Tokyo Institute of Technology (Tokyo Tech) and Tohoku University have developed high-quality GFO epitaxial films and systematically investigated their ferroelectric and ferromagnetic properties. They also demonstrated the room-temperature magnetocapacitance effects of these GFO thin films.

Multiferroic materials show magnetically driven ferroelectricity. They are attracting increasing attention because of their fascinating properties such as...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

10th International Symposium: “Advanced Battery Power – Kraftwerk Batterie” Münster, 10-11 April 2018

08.01.2018 | Event News

See, understand and experience the work of the future

11.12.2017 | Event News

Innovative strategies to tackle parasitic worms

08.12.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

Thanks for the memory: NIST takes a deep look at memristors

22.01.2018 | Materials Sciences

Radioactivity from oil and gas wastewater persists in Pennsylvania stream sediments

22.01.2018 | Earth Sciences

Saarland University bioinformaticians compute gene sequences inherited from each parent

22.01.2018 | Life Sciences

VideoLinks Wissenschaft & Forschung
Overview of more VideoLinks >>>