How micro/nanoarchitecture facilitates anti-wetting: An elegant hierarchical design on the termite wing

Watson, Gregory S., Cribb, Bronwen W. and Watson, Jolanta A. (2010) How micro/nanoarchitecture facilitates anti-wetting: An elegant hierarchical design on the termite wing. ACS NANO, 4 1: 129-136. doi:10.1021/nn900869b


Author Watson, Gregory S.
Cribb, Bronwen W.
Watson, Jolanta A.
Title How micro/nanoarchitecture facilitates anti-wetting: An elegant hierarchical design on the termite wing
Journal name ACS NANO   Check publisher's open access policy
ISSN 1936-0851
1936-086X
Publication date 2010-01
Sub-type Article (original research)
DOI 10.1021/nn900869b
Volume 4
Issue 1
Start page 129
End page 136
Total pages 8
Place of publication Washington DC, United States
Publisher American Chemical Society
Collection year 2011
Language eng
Subject C1
Formatted abstract
The termite is an insect which is a weak flier, has a large wing area in relation to its body mass, and many species typically fly during rain or storm periods. Water droplets placed on these insects’ wings will spontaneously roll off the surface. Here we show how the intricate hierarchical array design of these insect wings achieves anti-wetting properties with water bodies of various sizes by reducing contact area and thus adhesion. To repel large droplets, the termite uses an array of hairs with a specially designed nanoarchitecture, which we demonstrate is critical for this function. By coating single hairs with a polymer of varying thicknesses (with a similar hydrophobicity to insect cuticle), we demonstrate that hairs of the same chemistry and with the complete nanoarchitecture show the greatest resistance to penetrating water bodies. The wings also consist of an underlying non-wetting membrane substructure comprising an array of star-shaped microstructures which minimize interaction with micro-sized droplets of water. The sophisticated micro/nanostructured hierarchy on the termite wing membrane not only results in non-wetting at different length scales but also demonstrates a design for weight and material minimization while achieving this state. Elucidating the function of such structures has implications for understanding insect biology and the evolution of wings.
© 2010 American Chemical Society.
Keyword Termite
Insect
Micro/nanostructures
Atomic force microscopy
Anti-wetting
Superhydrophobic
Q-Index Code C1
Q-Index Status Confirmed Code
Institutional Status UQ

Document type: Journal Article
Sub-type: Article (original research)
Collections: Official 2011 Collection
School of Biological Sciences Publications
Centre for Microscopy and Microanalysis Publications
 
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Created: Sun, 14 Feb 2010, 00:03:46 EST