SUBJECT: Ph.D. Dissertation Defense
BY: Guillermo Amador
TIME: Friday, March 27, 2015, 10:00 a.m.
PLACE: MARC Building, 114
TITLE: How Insects Stay Clean
COMMITTEE: Dr. David Hu, Chair (ME)
Dr. Alexander Alexeev (ME)
Dr. Kyriaki Kalaitzidou (ME)
Dr. Athanasios Nenes (EAS)
Dr. Daniel Goldman (Physics)


This thesis considers a physical perspective to an insect's maintenance of a clean body surface. Flying insects are faced with a barrage of particles in their environment, including dust, pollen, pollutants, and parasitic mites, the last of which is responsible for the modern decline of honey bees, of critical importance to agriculture around the world. In this combined experimental and theoretical study, we elucidate the mechanisms by which insects stay clean. These mechanisms all rely on the insectís coverage by a dense array of hairs, whose purpose was previously unknown. We show that these bristles divert incoming flow, reducing deposition of particles, especially onto the eyes. During grooming, the bristles are triggered like miniature catapults, driving particles at over 1000 gravities. We replicate these mechanisms on PDMS substrates, demonstrating the feasibility by which they may be incorporated into self-cleaning sensors and lenses.