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Biofouling. 2011;27(10):1125-37. doi: 10.1080/08927014.2011.637187.

Fouling of nanostructured insect cuticle: adhesion of natural and artificial contaminants.

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School of Pharmacy and Molecular Sciences, James Cook University, Townsville, QLD 4811, Australia.


The adhesional properties of contaminating particles of scales of various lengths were investigated for a wide range of micro- and nanostructured insect wing cuticles. The contaminating particles consisted of artificial hydrophilic (silica) and spherical hydrophobic (C(18)) particles, and natural pollen grains. Insect wing cuticle architectures with an open micro-/nanostructure framework demonstrated topographies for minimising solid-solid and solid-liquid contact areas. Such structuring of the wing membranes allows for a variety of removal mechanisms to contend with particle contact, such as wind and self-cleaning droplet interactions. Cuticles exhibiting high contact angles showed considerably lower particle adhesional forces than more hydrophilic insect surfaces. Values as low as 3 nN were recorded in air for silica of ~28 nm in diameter and <25 nN for silica particles 30 μm in diameter. A similar adhesional trend was also observed for contact with pollen particles.

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