Molecular and Topographical Organization: Influence on Cicada Wing Wettability and Bactericidal Properties

Jessica Román-Kustas, Jacob B. Hoffman, Julian H. Reed, Andrew E. Gonsalves, Junho Oh, Longnan Li, Sungmin Hong, Kyoo D. Jo, Catherine E. Dana, Nenad Miljkovic, Donald M. Cropek, Marianne Alleyne

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Numerous natural surfaces have micro/nanostructures that result in extraordinary functionality, such as superhydrophobicity, self-cleaning, antifogging, and antimicrobial properties. One such example is the cicada wing, where differences in nanopillar geometry and composition among species can impact and influence the degree of exhibited properties. To understand the relationships between surface topography and chemical composition with multifunctionality, the wing properties of Neotibicen pruinosus (superhydrophobic) and Magicicada cassinii (hydrophobic) cicadas are investigated at time points after microwave-assisted extraction of surface molecules to characterize the chemical contribution to nanopillar functionality. Electron microscopy of the wings throughout the extraction process illustrates nanoscale topographical changes, while concomitant changes in hydrophobicity, bacterial fouling, and bactericidal properties are also measured. Extract analysis reveals the major components of the nanostructures to be fatty acids and saturated hydrocarbons ranging from C17 to C44. Effects on the antimicrobial character of a wing surface with respect to the extracted chemicals suggest that the molecular composition of the nanopillars plays both a direct and an indirect role in concert with nanopillar geometry. The data presented not only correlates the nanopillar molecular organization to macroscale functional properties, but it also presents design guidelines to consider during the replication of natural nanostructures onto engineered substrates to induce desired properties.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number2000112
JournalAdvanced Materials Interfaces
Issue number10
StatePublished - May 1 2020


  • cicada wings
  • contact angle
  • microwave-assisted extraction
  • nanostructured interfaces
  • superhydrophobicity

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Mechanics of Materials
  • Mechanical Engineering


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