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J Synchrotron Radiat. 2013 May;20(Pt 3):482-9. doi: 10.1107/S0909049513004056. Epub 2013 Mar 22.

High-spatial-resolution mapping of superhydrophobic cicada wing surface chemistry using infrared microspectroscopy and infrared imaging at two synchrotron beamlines.

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Infrared Microspectroscopy Beamline, Australian Synchrotron, 800 Blackburn Road, Clayton, Victoria, Australia.


The wings of some insects, such as cicadae, have been reported to possess a number of interesting and unusual qualities such as superhydrophobicity, anisotropic wetting and antibacterial properties. Here, the chemical composition of the wings of the Clanger cicada (Psaltoda claripennis) were characterized using infrared (IR) microspectroscopy. In addition, the data generated from two separate synchrotron IR facilities, the Australian Synchrotron Infrared Microspectroscopy beamline (AS-IRM) and the Synchrotron Radiation Center (SRC), University of Wisconsin-Madison, IRENI beamline, were analysed and compared. Characteristic peaks in the IR spectra of the wings were assigned primarily to aliphatic hydrocarbon and amide functionalities, which were considered to be an indication of the presence of waxy and proteinaceous components, respectively, in good agreement with the literature. Chemical distribution maps showed that, while the protein component was homogeneously distributed, a significant degree of heterogeneity was observed in the distribution of the waxy component, which may contribute to the self-cleaning and aerodynamic properties of the cicada wing. When comparing the data generated from the two beamlines, it was determined that the SRC IRENI beamline was capable of producing higher-spatial-resolution distribution images in a shorter time than was achievable at the AS-IRM beamline, but that spectral noise levels per pixel were considerably lower on the AS-IRM beamline, resulting in more favourable data where the detection of weak absorbances is required. The data generated by the two complementary synchrotron IR methods on the chemical composition of cicada wings will be immensely useful in understanding their unusual properties with a view to reproducing their characteristics in, for example, industry applications.


FTIR; chemical mapping; cicada wings; surface chemistry

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