National Geographic excerpt:

"A group of researchers led by Andres Arrieta, assistant professor of
mechanical engineering at Purdue University, recently published a paper in
Science about how earwigs’ wings work. When the team tried to model the
unfolding mechanism using a traditional understanding of origami-like
folding, it did not compute. The wings simply do not fold like typical
well-known materials (think paper) at a single crease.

Instead, Arrieta’s team found that the wings work by possessing spring-like
folds, which have two stable configurations. He likens them to slap
bracelets, which can stably switch between two different orientations.

Julia Deiters, a researcher at Germany’s University of Duisburg-Essen who
recently co-authored a study on the topic, says the wings are also
stabilized by folds that are bended, as opposed to straight. These arrange
mechanical forces in a way that enables the wings to “lock,” either when
they are completely open or folded up.


Arrieta and others hope to use their insights into the wings’ mechanisms to
create mimics in the future. “The wing gave us the recipe to make similar
manmade materials,” he says. Such materials could be an invaluable tool
with potential applications for making things like quick-assembly tents,
portable solar panels, and compact electronics."

Santa Monica, CA, USA

Reply via email to