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Award Abstract #1510884

UNS: Designing insect-inspired self-cleaning surfaces

Div Of Chem, Bioeng, Env, & Transp Sys
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Initial Amendment Date: June 21, 2015
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Latest Amendment Date: June 21, 2015
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Award Number: 1510884
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Award Instrument: Standard Grant
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Program Manager: William Olbricht
CBET Div Of Chem, Bioeng, Env, & Transp Sys
ENG Directorate For Engineering
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Start Date: July 1, 2015
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End Date: June 30, 2018 (Estimated)
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Awarded Amount to Date: $421,900.00
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Investigator(s): David Hu hu@me.gatech.edu (Principal Investigator)
Kyriaki Kalaitzidou (Co-Principal Investigator)
Alexander Alexeev (Co-Principal Investigator)
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Sponsor: Georgia Tech Research Corporation
Office of Sponsored Programs
Atlanta, GA 30332-0420 (404)894-4819
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Program Reference Code(s): 055E, 7573, 7623, 8007
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Program Element Code(s): 1712, 1415


CBET - 1510884

PI: Hu, David

The eyes of flying insects have soft hairs distributed across their surfaces that keep the eyes clean of airborne particles. The air flow past the hairs reduces the tendency of airborne particles to deposit on the eye, and the hairs can trap and remove airborne particles before they contact the eye. This project will study these two characteristics of the insect eye and use the findings to develop a synthetic self-cleaning surface. The synthetic surface will use fine polymer bristles to mimic the insect's hairs and carry out the self-cleaning functions. The results of this research could be applied to design and fabricate self-cleaning sensors, solar cells, lenses and other devices. The team will incorporate their research into an educational module titled "Our Hairy World," which will enable students to understand how engineers and scientists can use results from biology to improve technology.

The project comprises a series of experiments and numerical simulations to explore how the bristles covering insect eyes divert incoming airflows to reduce airborne particle deposition and how the release of stored elastic energy during insect grooming flicks off particles from the bristles. The interdisciplinary research team will measure the geometry and spacing of bristles in a range of insect eye sizes, fabricate bristled surfaces using soft polymers, conduct computer simulations of flow through bristle arrays, measure the rate of particle deposition on insect eyes and onto synthetic bristled surfaces, and quantify particle removal during insect grooming and replicate this function in a polymeric bristle seeded with iron particles for magnetic activation. Results of the project will be useful in improved design of microelectronics and other small-scale device components.


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