August 29, 2013

Butterfly wings + carbon nanotubes = new ‘nanobiocomposite’ material

Leveraging the amazing natural properties of the Morpho butterfly's wings, scientists have developed a nanobiocomposite material that shows promise for wearable electronic devices, highly sensitive light sensors and sustainable batteries. A report on the new hybrid material appears in the journal ACS Nano.

Eijiro Miyako and colleagues explain that Morpho butterfly wings have natural properties that are beyond the capabilities of any current technology to reproduce artificially. In addition to being lightweight, thin and flexible, the butterfly’s wings absorb solar energy, shed water quickly and are self-cleaning. Miyako’s group had been working with tiny cylinders of carbon termed carbon nanotubes (CNTs), and became fascinated with CNTs’ unique electrical, mechanical, thermal and optical properties. Miyako’s team set out to marry the wings and nanotubes to produce an all-new hybrid material.