Pillars of Life: Is There a Relationship between Lifestyle Factors and the Surface Characteristics of Dragonfly Wings?

Samuel Cheeseman, Stephanie Owen, Vi Khanh Truong, Denny Meyer, Soon Hock Ng, Jitraporn Vongsvivut, Denver Linklater, Mark J. Tobin, Marco Werner, Vladimir A. Baulin, Pere Luque, Richard Marchant, Saulius Juodkazis, Russell J. Crawford, Elena P. Ivanova

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

9 Citations (Scopus)


Dragonfly wings are of great interest to researchers investigating biomimetic designs for antiwetting and antibacterial surfaces. The waxy epicuticular layer on the membrane of dragonfly wings possesses a unique surface nanoarchitecture that consists of irregular arrays of nanoscale pillars. This architecture confers superhydrophobic, self-cleaning, antiwetting, and antibiofouling behaviors. There is some evidence available that suggests that lifestyle factors may have influenced the evolution of the wing nanostructures and, therefore, the resulting properties of the wings; however, it appears that no systematic studies have been performed that have compared the wing surface features across a range of dragonfly species. Here, we provided a comparison of relevant wing surface characteristics, including chemical composition, wettability, and nanoarchitecture, of seven species of dragonfly from three families including Libellulidae, Aeshnidae, and Gomphidae. The characteristic nanopillar arrays were found to be present, and the chemical composition and the resultant wing surface superhydrophobicity were found to be well-conserved across all of the species studied. However, subtle differences were observed between the height, width, and density of nanofeatures and water droplet bouncing behavior on the wing surfaces. The results of this research will contribute to an understanding of the physical and chemical surface features that are optimal for the design of antiwetting and antibacterial surfaces.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)6039-6046
Number of pages8
JournalACS Omega
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - 30 Jun 2018
Externally publishedYes


  • dragonfly wings
  • nanoarchitecture
  • evolution
  • nanostructures
  • nanopillar
  • Libellulidae
  • Aeshnidae
  • Gomphidae
  • antiwetting
  • antibacterial
  • antibiofouling


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