Butterfly Wings and rice leaves to inspire high tech surfaces


In order to improvise a variety of products, researchers are looking towards butterfly wings and the surface of rice leaves. For instance, researchers found that they could clean about 85 percent of dust from a coated plastic surface which was similar to the texture of a butterfly wing, as compared to just 70 percent from a flat surface.

Engineers from Ohio State University explained that the textures help to enhance the flow of fluid and prevents the surface from getting dirty. These characteristics could be similar to that for aircraft and watercraft, pipelines and medical equipment.

Howard D and Bharat Bhushan, who is an Ohio Eminent Scholar said, “Nature has evolved many surfaces that are self-cleaning or reduce drag”. An electron microscope and an optical profiler were used to study the wings of the Giant Blue Morpho butterfly, as well as leaves of the rice plant Oriza sativa.

The engineers cast plastic replicas of both microscopic textures, while comparing their abilities to repel dirt and water. They compared these  to replicas of fish scales, shark skin and a plain flat surface. Bhushan also explained that in nature, staying clean is a critical issue for a butterfly. Their wings are so delicate that getting dirt or moisture on them makes it hard to fly.