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Inspired by insects, engineers create pointed materials that can pop bacteria

Waves are created at right angles and produce spikes. Credits: Pellegrino et al

Researchers have created complex patterns of materials that mimic the antibacterial, adhesive, and drag-reducing properties found on natural surfaces.


The team at Imperial College London was inspired by the wavy, pointed surfaces found in insects, such as cicadas and dragonfly feathers. Bacteria..

They want new things material It can be used to create self-sterilizing surfaces and provide alternatives to chemically functionalized surfaces and cleaners that can promote the growth of antibiotic-resistant bacteria.

Small waves that overlap at defined angles to create spikes and ripples reduce the drag of sea transport by mimicking shark skins and increase color vividness by mimicking insects without the need for pigments. Also useful.

Professor Joan Cabral, Senior Author of the Department of Imperial Chemical Engineering, said: While moving in the water. We borrow these natural tricks for exactly the same purpose, using tricks reminiscent of Fourier wave superposition. “

Pointed structure

Researchers are new by stretching and compressing thin, soft and sustainable plastics that resemble plastic wrap to create three-dimensional nano- and micro-scale wavy patterns that are compatible with sustainable biodegradable polymers. I created the material.

The pointed structure was inspired by the way insects and fish evolved to interact with the environment. The wavy spillover effect is found on the wings of cicadas and dragonflies. Its surface is made up of small spikes that pop out bacterial cells to keep insects clean.

This structure can also be applied to ships to reduce drag and increase efficiency. This is a shark skin-inspired application that includes nanoscale horizontal bumps to reduce friction and drag.

Another application is to produce something lively colour Like the wings of a morpho blue butterfly, its cells are arranged to reflect light and bend into bright blue without the use of pigments. This is known as the structural color, and other examples include the blue peacock feathers, the iridescent beetle shell, and the blue human eye.

Wave scale up

To carry out the research published in Physical review letterResearchers have studied semi- and dragonfly specimens from the Natural History Museum, as well as sediments and rock formations recorded by Trinity College Dublin.

They found that these naturally occurring surface waves could be reproduced by stretching and relaxing a thin polymer skin in the exact direction on a nanoscale.

Complex patterns can be manufactured by lithography or other methods (for example, manufacturing silicon microchips), but these are generally exorbitantly expensive to use over large areas. On the other hand, this new approach is ready to scale up relatively cheaply if it proves to be effective and robust.

Potential uses include self-disinfection aspects in hospitals, schools, public transport, and food manufacturing. Such waves can also help keep medical implants clean. This is important because it can host a network of bacterial substances known as biofilms, which are notorious for being difficult to kill.

Naturally occurring wave patterns can also be seen in the human brain, wrinkles on the fingertips, and ripples on the sand floor. Dr. Luca Pellegrino, lead author of the Department of Chemical Engineering at Imperial, said: Surface wave As you can see in nature, you can create palettes of patterns in your critical applications. Through this study, we can also learn about the possible origins of these natural morphologies, a field called morphogenesis. ”

The team’s next focus is to test the effectiveness and robustness of the material in real-world settings, such as the surface of a bath. Researchers hope to contribute to the solution of chemical cleaner-independent surface cleanliness.


From dragonflies to kingfishers: the science behind the bright blue of nature


For more information:
Luca Pellegrino et al, the ripple pattern appears spontaneously by the interference of continuous wrinkles in the polymer double layer. Physical review letter (2022). DOI: 10.1103 / PhysRevLett.128.058001

Quote: Insect-inspired, engineers create pointed materials that can pop bacteria (February 9, 2022).

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Inspired by insects, engineers create pointed materials that can pop bacteria

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