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The world of technology finds inspiration in the animal kingdom

Almost every animal on this planet has its own unique way of keeping clean. We know that cats like to lick themselves clean and dogs can shake off excess dirt and mud (especially when standing inside your house!). But I bet you didn’t know that fruit flies can wiggle their hairs in a way that catapults dust off at a speed of up to 500 times Earth’s gravity? Or that cicadas have sharp points on their wings that essentially pop the airborne bacteria around them?

new article in the Journal of Experimental Biology reviews some of the cleaning strategies used by a variety of animals and how these may be applied in synthetic systems such as drones and robots.

In their review, researchers from the Georgia Institute of Technology propose that delicate equipment such as sensors, could be equipped with eyelash-like structures to help keep off dust and debris which can interfere with transmission.

The researchers noted that a single honeybee has 3 million strands of hair while butterflies and moths have nearly 10 billion! Body hair in these and other hairy creatures, may facilitate cleaning by reducing adhesion of dust particles, making them easier to remove. In a similar fashion, consider applying synthetic filaments to the surface of a solar panel. The filaments would act like hairs that would suspend dust above the surface while still allowing the passage of light.

“Understanding how biological systems, like eyelashes, prevent soiling by interacting with the environment can help inspire low-energy solutions for keeping sensitive equipment free from dust and dirt,” said David Hu, one of the authors.

This blog post is brought to you by the SLVS team. If you have a suggestion for a future post, please leave it in the comments section below…

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