Inspired by the nanostructures in the wing of a male Papilio ulysses, researchers have made a silicon wafer that both repels water and strongly absorbs light. Also known as the blue mountain swallowtail, the butterfly (shown in the inset) has multilayered structures in its wing that create multiple traps for both air and light. Air trapped on a rough surface is known to significantly reduce the frictional drag on a flowing liquid—a property known as superhydrophobicity (see PHYSICS TODAY, October 2009, page 16). But artificial superhydrophobic surfaces are usually unstable to capillary flows and other external perturbations and easily lose their trapped air. A multinational group led by Sang-Ho Yun (Royal Institute of Technology, Kista, Sweden) has now used standard microfabrication techniques to drill micron-deep pores in a silicon wafer and build nanocones on the pores’ edges as shown in the image. The production process took 10 minutes...
Stephen G. Benka; Silicon meets the butterfly wing. Physics Today 1 January 2012; 65 (1): 17. https://doi.org/10.1063/PT.3.1389
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