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Shark Skin, Butterfly Wings Inspire New High-Tech Surfaces

By - Source: Ohio State University | B 12 comments
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Innovation does not always have to be disruptive in order to be recognized as a great idea.

Image Courtesy of What We Do MediaImage Courtesy of What We Do MediaTaking advantage of the obvious may accelerate innovation much more than an attempt to reinvent the wheel. This just happened to researchers who found a way to tune surfaces in a very specific way to keep them from getting dirty and, if they are dirty, making them easier to clean.

Bharat Bhushan and Howard Winbigler at Ohio State University found that using the texture of shark skin, a rice leaf or a butterfly wing on a plastic surface enabled them to clean up to 98 percent of dust compared to only 70 percent off a regular flat surface. The discovery could be important for high-tech surfaces for aircraft and watercraft, pipelines, and medical equipment, the researchers said.

"Reduced drag is desirable for industry, whether you’re trying to move a few drops of blood through a nano-channel or millions of gallons of crude oil through a pipeline," Winbigler said. "And self-cleaning surfaces would be useful for medical equipment – catheters, or anything that might harbor bacteria."

The scientists used an electron microscope to reveal the texture of the Giant Blue Morpho butterfly wing. According to Bhushan, the surface resembled a "clapboard roof with rows of overlapping shingles radiating out from the butterfly’s body, suggesting that water and dirt roll off the wings like water off a roof." They also investigated the textures of rice leaves, fish scales, shark skin, and plain flat surfaces in respect to their ability to repel dirt and water.

To test how easy the surfaces are to clean, the researchers recorded the number of silicon carbide particles on each texture and then dripped water over the surfaces from a syringe for two minutes. Counting the silicon carbide particles after this process, they found that 98 percent of particles disappeared from the shark skin, 95 percent were removed from the rice leaf, 85 percent from the butterfly wing and only 70 percent from the flat surface.

*Image courtesy of What We Do Media.

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  • 10 Hide
    ojas , January 28, 2013 9:49 AM
    fuzzion"Taking advantage of the patent office may accelerate innovation much more with an attempt to patent the wheel. "Apples moto.

    Fixed :p 
Other Comments
  • 6 Hide
    merikafyeah , January 28, 2013 6:45 AM
    This excites the OCD in me.
  • 8 Hide
    vaughn2k , January 28, 2013 7:03 AM
    Science rely on good experiments and observation. This is always the first rule of Science.
  • 5 Hide
    fuzzion , January 28, 2013 7:38 AM
    "Taking advantage of the obvious may accelerate innovation much more than an attempt to reinvent the wheel. "

    Apples moto.
  • 7 Hide
    steelbox , January 28, 2013 8:03 AM
    Bharat Bhushan and Howard Winbigler.? Real life Rajesh Koothrapali and Howard Holowitz.
  • 6 Hide
    izmanq , January 28, 2013 8:27 AM
    for air craft ? i want this for my keyboard, mouse, and mobile phone :p 
  • 6 Hide
    izmanq , January 28, 2013 8:27 AM
    and car too :D 
  • 10 Hide
    ojas , January 28, 2013 9:49 AM
    fuzzion"Taking advantage of the patent office may accelerate innovation much more with an attempt to patent the wheel. "Apples moto.

    Fixed :p 
  • -1 Hide
    Parsian , January 28, 2013 1:33 PM
    sweet now i wont have to worry about honey dripping on my phone's screen. that happens a lot.
  • 0 Hide
    Anonymous , January 28, 2013 6:20 PM
    Yes, a shark skin mobile phone. Maybee I wont drop it so much.
  • 0 Hide
    jacobdrj , January 28, 2013 7:01 PM
    asfeasfYes, a shark skin mobile phone. Maybee I wont drop it so much.

    In Soviet Russia, when man drop phone, breaks hand...


    Shark skin 'teeth' will leave your hand bloody if you 'hold it wrong'...
  • 1 Hide
    SuckRaven , January 29, 2013 1:41 AM
    Why did they need an electron microscope to "see" that a butterfly's wings look like scales or overlapping shingles on a roof?
  • 0 Hide
    Gundam288 , January 30, 2013 5:08 AM
    jacobdrjIn Soviet Russia, when man drop phone, breaks hand...

    Only if it's the Nokia 3310.