Common whitetail dragonfly. Public domain image by Christopher Johnson (Insects Unlocked, University of Texas at Austin)
Original Published Date: 
Thursday, August 27, 2020

Full article issued by RMIT University.

ARC-supported scientists have revealed how nanomaterials inspired by insect wings are able to destroy bacteria on contact, which hold promise for opening a new era of biomedical antimicrobial nanotechnology. 

The wings of cicadas and dragonflies are natural bacteria killers, a phenomenon that has spurred researchers searching for ways to defeat drug-resistant superbugs. New anti-bacterial surfaces are being developed, featuring different nanopatterns that mimic the deadly action of insect wings, which can stretch, slice or tear bacteria apart on contact.

A pioneer in biomimetic antibacterial surfaces, Distinguished Professor Elena Ivanova leads the Mechano-bactericidal Surfaces research group in the School of Science at RMIT, and is a Chief Investigator at the ARC Training Centre in Surface Engineering for Advanced Materials, and at the ARC Research Hub for Australian Steel Innovation

“If we can understand exactly how insect-inspired nanopatterns kill bacteria, we can be more precise in engineering these shapes to improve their effectiveness against infections," says Professor Ivanova.

“Our ultimate goal is to develop low-cost and scaleable anti-bacterial surfaces for use in implants and in hospitals, to deliver powerful new weapons in the fight against deadly superbugs.”

Photo credit: 

Common whitetail dragonfly. Credit: Christopher Johnson, Insects Unlocked, University of Texas at Austin (Public domain).