It seems that nature is the answer when it comes to technological inspiration as desert beetle could help us prevent frost. This discovery comes after a team of Japan scientist managed to create a better solar panels film by studying the eyes of a moth, and Qualcomm Technologies developed the first e-reader in full-color after taking inspiration from the wings of a butterfly.
- More and more technologies are based on replicas of the natural world
- The desert beetle could help us prevent frost
- The scientists replicated the complex pattern from the back of the beetle that allows the insect to collect water from its surrounding environment
- The technology is still being tested, but it may become available for the public in the near future
The team of scientists from the Polytechnic Institute in Virginia (Virginia Tech) managed to discover an efficient method to better prevent and control frost accumulation. The method devised by the researchers is based on a specific pattern that must be overlaid on a surface that is water-resistant. The Virginia Tech scientists hope that upon additional testing and developing, the method will be used to prevent frost accumulation on airplanes.
The surprise of this finding is that the team searched for inspiration where no frost has ever reached before, and that is the desert. They observed that the desert beetle has naturally developed a technique of harvesting water droplets from the air’s humidity. That inspired them to study the beetle’s shell more closely.
The main idea is that the desert insect has adapted to the arid environment by creating a water-guiding mechanism. The shell of the beetle has some unique features that basically allows it to collect water droplets from the air. This is possible due to some bumps on its back that when combined with the smooth water resistant surface of the shell, allow droplets of water to form and run directly into the mouth of the parched insect.
The Virginia Tech scientists saw how the desert beetle could help us prevent frost accumulation by replicating the insect’s shell. Using photolithography, the researchers re-created the bump model from the beetle’s back onto a wafer made out of silicon. The pattern allows water to be collected and the smooth water-resistance surface then repels it. This process can prevent frost accumulation because it keeps the water constantly running, thus the probability of it freezing drops.
For the moment, the method has only been tested on a strip that is roughly 1 centimeter in size. But preliminary tests look good and the scientists are hopeful they will produce it for commercial use in the near future.
A butterfly helped with the development of a better e-reader, a moth contributed to the efficiency of green energy and now the desert beetle could help us prevent frost. It seems that all the technological-related answers that we are seeking are to be found in nature.
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