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"Nova" Butterfly Blueprints 2022
6.2 of 10

"Nova" Butterfly Blueprints

HD 7.70 na min
Among the 160,000 kinds of butterflies and moths, many have evolved to produce materials that can be adapted to uses for humans. At the same time, some of them are endangered because of climate change and loss of habitat. Delbert André Green II, a researcher at the University of Michigan, explains how the monarch butterfly, with its 3000-mile migration, acts as a sentinel species for how we are doing in sustaining Planet Earth. Jessica Ware, an entomologist at the American Museum of Natural History, discusses bio-inspired designs of silk from the Bombyx silk moths. In the Silklab at Tufts School of Engineering, Fiorenzo Omenetto utilizes the silk protein fibroin to fashion films for releasing medicines or implanting for reconstructive surgery. In liquid form, it can be used to produce inks that change color in the presence of chemical or viral hazards. Serge Berthier, a research physicist at the Paris Institute of Nanosciences, has studied how the nanostructure of scales on morpho butterfly wings generates its iconic vivid blues and water repellency. Chunlei Guo at the University of Rochester Institute of Optics employs an infrared laser to sculpt nanoscale structures on the surface of metals. The colors they impart can improve solar cell efficiency by 130%. The nanostructures also lend surfaces extreme hydrophobicity, the ability to stay dry. Guo has paired his etched metal surfaces into a layered assembly that is unsinkable. This has obvious applications to ship hulls but also suggests platforms on which floating cities could be built. Researchers at the Karlsruhe Institute of Technology examine nanostructures in transparent glasswing butterflies to generate new transparent materials. At Caltech, Radwanul Hasan Siddique uses this structure along with super hydrophobic materials to constantly monitor glaucoma conditions inside the human eye yet avoid fouling by microorganisms. Light concentration by cabbage white butterflies has lets Katie Shanks at the University of Exeter improve the power-to-weight ratio in solar cells by 17 times. The sensilla olfactory organs in male silk moths have inspired hypersensitive chemical detectors for explosives and toxic gases. Valerie Kéller at the University of Strasbourg grows artificial sensilla as titanium oxide nanotubes that can be flown on drones. Cocoonase enzymes from silk moths may help dissolve blood clots.

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