Anti-wetting on insect cuticle – structuring to minimise adhesion and weight

Watson, Jolanta A., Hu, Hsuan-Ming, Cribb, Bronwen W., and Watson, Gregory S. (2011) Anti-wetting on insect cuticle – structuring to minimise adhesion and weight. In: Pramatarova, Lilyana, (ed.) On Biomimetics. InTech Publishing, Rijeka, Croatia, pp. 395-418.

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[Extract] The next generation of non-contaminable and self-cleaning surfaces will require examination at all length scales in order to have enhanced abilities to control adhesion processes between surfaces. In particular, controlling adhesion between solids and liquids impacts on many aspects of life, from keeping surfaces clean to industrial applications such as the state-of-the-art of droplet-based micro-fluidics systems (Sun et al., 2005a; Yoshimitsu et al., 2002). Progress in the nanoelectromechanical systems and other nanotechnologies has prompted studies to reduce wearing inside micromechanical and nano-sized devices which will lead to improved functionalities and longer life expectancy (Burton & Bhushan, 2005; Ando & Ino, 1998; Mastrangelo, 1997; Abdelsalam et al., 2005). These improvements require new materials with low adhesion, friction and wettability which may be achieved by incorporating new structure designs on their surfaces. The ability to fabricate surfaces at two extremes - a surface that adheres to anything and a surface that nothing will adhere to would be the Holy Grail in regards to adhesion.

One of the most noteworthy naturally occurring nano-composite materials is the insect cuticle which, due to their surface micro- and nano-structures, have recently been shown to exhibit a range of impressive properties such as superhydrophobicity, self-cleaning technologies and directed wetting (Wagner, 1996; Cong et al., 2004; Gorb et al., 2000; Gao & Jiang, 2004). These properties benefit insects with high wing surface area-to-body mass ratio (SA/M) and terrestrial insects (e.g., Holdgate, 1955; Wagner et al., 1996; Cong et al., 2004; Sun et al., 2005a; Gorb et al., 2000; Gao & Jiang, 2004) that reside near water. Additional weight due to contamination can also potentially have a detrimental effect on the flight capabilities of these insects (Wagner et al., 1996). Thus, unlike many man-made anti-wetting materials, insect structuring is bound by weight and material constraints. In the worst case scenario the insect can become a victim of permanent immobilization on water or wetted surfaces with a reduced capacity to evade or fight off predators. To maintain their mobility and hence their capacity to avoid predation, these insects utilise hydrophobic chemistry and topographical structuring (Holdgate, 1955; Wagner et al., 1996) on their cuticles which reduce the contact with wetting surfaces and other adhesive contaminants.

Item ID: 18546
Item Type: Book Chapter (Research - B1)
ISBN: 978-953-307-271-5
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© 2011 InTech All chapters are Open Access articles distributed under the Creative Commons Non Commercial Share Alike Attribution 3.0 license, which permits to copy, distribute, transmit, and adapt the work in any medium, so long as the original work is properly cited.

Date Deposited: 18 Jan 2012 04:33
FoR Codes: 02 PHYSICAL SCIENCES > 0299 Other Physical Sciences > 029901 Biological Physics @ 70%
06 BIOLOGICAL SCIENCES > 0699 Other Biological Sciences > 069999 Biological Sciences not elsewhere classified @ 30%
SEO Codes: 97 EXPANDING KNOWLEDGE > 970106 Expanding Knowledge in the Biological Sciences @ 40%
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