Sandia National Labs Academic Alliance Collaboration Report 2020-2021


Nenad Miljkovic, Marianne Alleyne, and Dan Cropek

Sandia first developed a method allowing for a gradual extraction of the compounds on the surface of the wing without damaging the structure, then they enclosed it in solvent and microwaved slowly. Through this process, they discovered that cicada wings are coated in hydrocarbons, fatty acids and oxygen-containing molecules such as sterols, alcohols and esters. The study also revealed that altering these surface chemicals changes the nanopillar structure which, in turn, changed the wings’ wettability and antimicrobial characteristics. These preliminary findings offer insight into the intersecting roles of structure, chemistry, and function. Understanding how the wings work together may help scientists to design artificial structures with similar surface traits that would benefit numerous applications. Read more about this study in Advanced Materials Interfaces.

Nenad Miljkovic, left, Marianne Alleyne, center, and Don Cropek, right, are involved in biological research at U of Illinois. Alleyne, assistant professor in entomology, is interested in how biological systems can lead to innovative design in human society. “Insects can inspire innovation. For instance, the way insect cuticle is formed and how it is recycled can teach us a lot about the hierarchical organization of many resilient materials, about conservation of resources, and about adaptability.”

This is a highly desirable property that will be useful in many materials engineering applications, from aircraft wings to medical equipment.


2020-2021 Collaboration Report

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