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article imageLadybug wings could lead to new foldable technologies

By Tim Sandle     Jun 18, 2017 in Science
Tokyo - In an example of biology meeting physics, the study of ladybug wings could lead to new types of foldable technologies and flexible electronic devices.
There's still much to learn from ladybugs (or 'ladybirds', depending where you are in the world). The flying beetles show a special ability to fold up their wings once they have landed. This allows then to protect the delicate appendages underneath their red and black forewings. The video below shows just how graceful the insects are:
To further understand how one species of ladybug (Coccinella septempunctata) is able to achieve the efficient packing of its appendages Japanese scientists have been carefully studying what is happening underneath the bug’s spotted exterior. Coccinella septempunctata is commonly known as the seven-spot ladybird (or 'ladybug'). The beetles' elytra (hardened forewings) are of a red color, and punctuated with three black spots each, with one further spot being spread over the junction of the two, making a total of seven spots.
For this, Science News reports, a research group from The University of Tokyo substituted part of a ladybug’s forewing with a transparent slice of resin. The aim was to obtain a clearer view of the folding mechanism.
 Ladybird  ladybird  Fly away home.....
"Ladybird, ladybird, Fly away home....."
NatureClip: Free Stock Footage
The study showed how ladybugs successfully achieve compatibility between the deformability (instability) required for wing folding and strength property (stability) required for flying. The main insight was with the shape of the wing veins, which allow ladybugs to flex like a metal tape measure, making the wings stiff but bendable.
The researchers hope that understanding the characteristics in the venations and crease patterns will provide an innovative designing method that could be used for human manufactured products, especially for the new development of foldable electronic devices.
The research has been published in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, with the paper titled "Investigation of hindwing folding in ladybird beetles by artificial elytron transplantation and microcomputed tomography."
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