Cicada wings inspire scientists to develop waterproof surfaces of the future

Researching the physical and chemical properties of insect wings, a team of scientists from the University of Illinois has managed to reproduce the incredible material properties that help cicada wings repel water and keep bacteria at bay.

The novel technique, which uses commercial nail polish, is affordable, follows a rather simple procedure, and scientists say it’s set to pave the way for the manufacture of future high-tech waterproof materials.

For their study, the researchers used a simplified version of a fabrication process — called nanoimprinting lithography — to make a template of the complex pillar-shaped nanostructure on the wings of Neotibicen pruinosus, a cicada commonly found in the central region of the US.

“We chose to work with wings of this species of cicada because our past work demonstrates how the complex nanostructures on their wings provide an outstanding ability to repel water. That is a highly desirable property that will be useful in many materials engineering applications, from aircraft wings to medical equipment,” said study co-author Marianne Alleyne.

In a lab environment, the researchers applied a quick-drying nail polish directly to a cicada wing and then left it to cure at room temperatures. Next, the resulting template was coated with copper before being dissolved away, leaving behind the replica of the cicada wing.

“Copper is particularly interesting to us because of its inherent antimicrobial properties, and our past work indicates that some cicada species display antimicrobial properties on their wings,” said Alleyne.

The newly discovered technique represents an important stepping stone towards inventing a great variety of novel materials.

Solution News Source



We respect your privacy and take protecting it seriously. Privacy Policy