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A Secret of Nature Solved: Nanotechnology Elucidates Why Insects Rub their Legs

Potential Applications in Development of Novel Material Functions by Biomimesis

National Institute for Materials Science

Interconnect Design Group, Hybrid Materials Center, NIMS, investigated the walking of insects as part of research on future joining technologies which enable the reversible joining of materials/parts needed in realizing a recycling society in order to solve environmental problems.

Abstract

A team led by Dr. Naoe Hosoda(*Open in new window), Group Leader of the Interconnect Design Group, Hybrid Materials Center (Managing Director: Seiji Kuroda), National Institute for Materials Science (President: Sukekatsu Ushioda), investigated the walking of insects (leaf beetles, family Chrysomelidae) as part of research on future joining technologies which enable the reversible joining (repeated adhesion/separation) of materials/parts needed in realizing a recycling society in order to solve environmental problems. The researchers focused on the high adhesiveness of the bottom of insects’ feet, which makes it possible for insects to walk upside down on flat surfaces like glass. In experiments using nanotechnology, the group traced this ability to the fact that insects sense contamination based on friction (ease of slipping on a surface).
This research result was achieved through a fusion of NIMS nanotechnology (nano material processing technology) and research on biomimetics in a joint study by NIMS and Prof. Stanislav N. Gorb of the Max Planck Institute for Metals Research (presently at the University of Kiel). Advanced recent nanotechnology of NIMS, in the form of nano-level surface control, contributed to the elucidation of an unknown behavior of living beings. In the future, these results will be applied to the development of novel material functions by biomimetics in research on reversible joining (functional interconnection).

"Fig. 1 Views of a leaf beetle rubbing its legs together (shown by arrows in A, B, and C), and a skewer part (D) used to remove contamination on the foot." Image

Fig. 1 Views of a leaf beetle rubbing its legs together (shown by arrows in A, B, and C), and a skewer part (D) used to remove contamination on the foot.




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Dr. Naoe Hosoda
Interconnect Design Group, Hybrid Materials Center
National Institute for Materials Science
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