Space & Innovation

Shredding Bacteria With Technology From Insect Wings

Turns out, dragonflies are helping scientists develop smarter medical devices based on the unique bacteria-killing abilities of their wings.

Scientists have known for a while that dragonfly wings are composed of nanopillars, which are small, spike-like pillars on the surface of the wings.

However, a new study in ASC Applied Materials & Interfaces found that these nanopillars play a role in killing bacteria by physically ripping them apart. The pillars are of varying sizes and look similar to what scientists have referred to as a bed of nails.

However, instead of puncturing the bacterial membrane, as researchers previously thought, the new study found that the bacteria secrete a substance that traps them in the pillars.

When the bacteria try to move, the force of their adhesion to the nanopillars tears them apart, spilling out their contents and killing the bacteria.

Read More:

ACS: Insect wings inspire antibacterial surfaces for corneal transplants, other medical devices

American Council on Science and Health: Why Dragonfly Wings Kill Bacteria

Scientific American: Insect Wings Shred Bacteria to Pieces