Exploring the Role of Habitat on the Wettability of Cicada Wings

Junho Oh, Catherine E. Dana, Sungmin Hong, Jessica K. Román, Kyoo Dong Jo, Je Won Hong, Jonah Nguyen, Donald M. Cropek, Marianne Alleyne, Nenad Miljkovic

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Evolutionary pressure has pushed many extant species to develop micro/nanostructures that can significantly affect wettability and enable functionalities such as droplet jumping, self-cleaning, antifogging, antimicrobial, and antireflectivity. In particular, significant effort is underway to understand the insect wing surface structure to establish rational design tools for the development of novel engineered materials. Most studies, however, have focused on superhydrophobic wings obtained from a single insect species, in particular, the Psaltoda claripennis cicada. Here, we investigate the relationship between the spatially dependent wing wettability, topology, and droplet jumping behavior of multiple cicada species and their habitat, lifecycle, and interspecies relatedness. We focus on cicada wings of four different species: Neotibicen pruinosus, N. tibicen, Megatibicen dorsatus, and Magicicada septendecim and take a comparative approach. Using spatially resolved microgoniometry, scanning electron microscopy, atomic force microscopy, and high speed optical microscopy, we show that within cicada species, the wettability of wings is spatially homogeneous across wing cells. All four species were shown to have truncated conical pillars with widely varying length scales ranging from 50 to 400 nm in height. Comparison of the wettability revealed three cicada species with wings that are superhydrophobic (>150°) with low contact angle hysteresis (<5°), resulting in stable droplet jumping behavior. The fourth, more distantly related species (Ma. septendecim) showed only moderate hydrophobic behavior, eliminating some of the beneficial surface functional aspects for this cicada. Correlation between cicada habitat and wing wettability yielded little connection as wetter, swampy environments do not necessarily equate to higher measured wing hydrophobicity. The results, however, do point to species relatedness and reproductive strategy as a closer proxy for predicting wettability and surface structure and resultant enhanced wing surface functionality. This work not only elucidates the differences between inter- and intraspecies cicada wing topology, wettability, and water shedding behavior but also enables the development of rational design tools for the manufacture of artificial surfaces for energy and water applications.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)27173-27184
Number of pages12
JournalACS Applied Materials and Interfaces
Issue number32
StatePublished - Aug 16 2017


  • bioinspiration
  • biomimicry
  • cicada
  • contact angle
  • droplet jumping
  • insect
  • nanopillar
  • topology
  • wettability

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Materials Science


Dive into the research topics of 'Exploring the Role of Habitat on the Wettability of Cicada Wings'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this