Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Butterfly wings inspire new technologies: From fabrics and cosmetics to sensors

Date:
September 9, 2013
Source:
University of Exeter
Summary:
A new study has revealed that the stunning iridescent wings of the tropical blue Morpho butterfly could expand the range of innovative technologies. Scientific lessons learned from these butterflies have already inspired designs of new displays, fabrics and cosmetics.

Morpho butterfly wings have surprising properties that could offer a variety of new technologies.
Credit: Image courtesy of GE Global Research

A new study has revealed that the stunning iridescent wings of the tropical blue Morpho butterfly could expand the range of innovative technologies.

Related Articles


Scientific lessons learnt from these butterflies have already inspired designs of new displays, fabrics and cosmetics.

Now research by the University of Exeter, in collaboration with General Electric (GE) Global Research Centre, University at Albany and Air Force Research Laboratory, and funded by the US Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA), has discovered that the physical structure and surface chemistry of the Morpho butterfly's wings provides surprising properties that could offer a variety of applications ranging from photonic security tags to self cleaning surfaces and protective clothing and to industrial sensors.

Tiny tree-like nanostructures on the scales of Morpho wings are known to be responsible for the butterfly's brilliant metallic blue iridescence. The study, published in the journal PNAS, found that vapour molecules adhere differently to the tops of these structures than to the bottom. This selective response to vapour molecules is the key to the range of possible bio-inspired technological applications.

Dr Radislav Potyrailo, from GE, who is the Principal Investigator on this DARPA Program, said: "Our interdisciplinary team of physicists, chemists, biologist, and materials scientists was able to unveil the existence of surface polarity gradient on iridescent Morpho butterfly scales. This discovery further allowed us to bring a multivariable perspective for vapour sensing, where selectivity is achieved within a single chemically graded nanostructured sensing unit, rather than from an array of separate sensors."

Professor Pete Vukusic from Physics at the University of Exeter said: "Understanding iridescence in butterflies and moths has revolutionised our knowledge of natural photonics. By using design ideas from nature we are able to work towards the development of applications in a range of different technologies. In this study the team discovered a new mechanism in photonic vapour sensing that demonstrates combined physical and chemical effects on the nanoscale."

Although not essential for butterfly survival, this unique property of selective gas adsorption is a by-product of the process of butterfly wing scale development.

Computer modelling work for this project was carried out by Tim Starkey, PhD student in Physics, from the University of Exeter.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by University of Exeter. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

University of Exeter. "Butterfly wings inspire new technologies: From fabrics and cosmetics to sensors." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 9 September 2013. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/09/130909172211.htm>.
University of Exeter. (2013, September 9). Butterfly wings inspire new technologies: From fabrics and cosmetics to sensors. ScienceDaily. Retrieved October 31, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/09/130909172211.htm
University of Exeter. "Butterfly wings inspire new technologies: From fabrics and cosmetics to sensors." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/09/130909172211.htm (accessed October 31, 2014).

Share This



More Plants & Animals News

Friday, October 31, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

How A Chorus Led Scientists To A New Frog Species

How A Chorus Led Scientists To A New Frog Species

Newsy (Oct. 30, 2014) A frog noticed by a conservationist on New York's Staten Island has been confirmed as a new species after extensive study and genetic testing. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Surfer Accidentally Stands on Shark, Gets Bitten

Surfer Accidentally Stands on Shark, Gets Bitten

AP (Oct. 30, 2014) A 20-year-old competition surfer said on Thursday he accidentally stepped on a shark's head before it bit him off the Australian east coast. (Oct. 30) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Ebola Inflicts Heavy Toll on Guinean Potato Trade

Ebola Inflicts Heavy Toll on Guinean Potato Trade

AFP (Oct. 30, 2014) The Ebola epidemic has seen Senegal and Guinea Bissau close its borders with Guinea and the economic consequences have started to be felt, especially in Fouta Djallon, where the renowned potato industry has been hit hard. Duration: 02:01 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Genetically Altered Glowing Flower on Display in Tokyo

Genetically Altered Glowing Flower on Display in Tokyo

Reuters - Innovations Video Online (Oct. 30, 2014) Just in time for Halloween, a glowing flower goes on display in Tokyo. Instead of sorcery and magic, its creators used science to genetically modify the flower, adding a naturally fluorescent plankton protein to its genetic mix. Ben Gruber reports. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:

Strange & Offbeat Stories


Plants & Animals

Earth & Climate

Fossils & Ruins

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins