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Beetle Inspires Frost-Fighting Technology

Namib Beetle
Monday, January 25, 2016

Researchers at Virginia Tech have taken cues from beetles to create technology that could prevent the development and spread of frost. The researchers studied the physiology of the Namib Beetle, which resides in the deserts of southern Africa. This variety of beetle has a shell that is designed to collect moisture from the air and then channel it into the insect's mouth. The shell's design inspired the researchers to develop chemical micropatterns using photolithography, on top of a surface that repels water to deter the spread of frost. Essentially, the researchers created tiny hydrophilic (water-attracting) dots spaced far enough apart that moisture evaporates before frost is able to form and spread across the surface. The pattern was created on a surface only one square centimeter in size, but the researchers believe that this can be scaled up. This technology has potential applications in preventing frost on airplane wings, windshields and heat-pump coils. 

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