Beating the heat in the living wings of butterflies

Tuesday, January 28, 2020
(Funded by the Air Force Office of Scientific Research, the U.S. Department of Energy and the National Science Foundation)

Contrary to common belief that butterfly wings consist primarily of lifeless membranes, a new study by researchers from Columbia Engineering and Harvard University has shown that butterfly wings contain a network of living cells whose function requires a constrained range of temperatures for optimal performance. The researchers found nanostructures in the wing scales that enable heat dissipation through thermal radiation and could inspire the design of radiative-cooling materials to help manage excessive heat conditions.