Wing surface self-cleans: Morpho butterfly
Wing surface of Morpho butterfly sheds water and dirt via hydrophobic microstructure.
|Biomimetic Application Ideas|
|Self-cleaning windows, paints, lenses, and other surfaces.|
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Like some plants, the wings of many large-winged insects remain dirt-free (e.g., butterflies, moths, dragonflies, lace wings), an obvious advantage for effective flight, and they do so without using chemical detergents or expending energy. This is accomplished by the interaction between the multi-scale micro- and nano- topography on their wing surfaces and the physical properties of water molecules.
While a variety of specific structures appear in this wing surface topography, all share a similar mathematical set of proportions in the size and distance of protrusions that are associated with superhydrophobicity (extreme non-wettability). For example, butterfly wings show two key periodic structures: the individual epidermal scales or squama (roughly 40x80 microns each) which comprise the wings of butterflies and the micro-relief of raised ridges covering each wing scale, each between 1000-1500 nm wide.
Because water and air adhere less well than water and solids, roughened surfaces can reduce adhesive force on water droplets, as trapped air in the interstitial spaces of the roughened surface result in a reduced liquid-to-solid contact area. This allows the self-attraction of the polar molecule of water to express more fully, causing it to form spheres. Dirt particles on the wing’s surface stick to these droplets, both due to natural adhesion between water and solids and because contact with the wing surface is reduced by the wing’s micro-topography. The slightest angle in the surface of the wing then cause the balls of water to roll off due to gravity, taking the attached dirt particles with them, cleaning the wing without using detergent or expending energy. Micro- and nano- surface finishes inspired by self-cleaning biological surfaces have now been applied to paints, glass, textiles, and more, reducing the need for toxic chemistries and costly labor.
Morpho sulkowskyi Kollar 1850
IUCN Red List Status: Unknown
Some organism data provided by: LepIndex: The Global Lepidoptera Names Index
Organism/taxonomy data provided by:
Species 2000 & ITIS Catalogue of Life: 2008 Annual Checklist
Application Ideas: Self-cleaning windows, paints, lenses, and other surfaces.
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