SUTD researchers uncover the promising capability of chitin as a sustainable smart biomaterial. Through water exchange with the environment, humidity-responsive chitinous films can generate mechanical and electrical energy for potential use in engineering and biomedical applications.
The wings of a butterfly are made of chitin, an organic polymer that is the main component of the shells of arthropods like crustaceans and other insects. As a butterfly emerges from its cocoon in the final stage of metamorphosis, it will slowly unfold its wings into their full grandeur. During the unfolding, the chitinous material becomes dehydrated while blood pumps through the veins of the butterfly, producing forces that reorganise the molecules of the material to provide the unique strength and stiffness necessary for flight. This natural combination of forces, movement of water, and molecular organisation is the inspiration behind Associate Professor Javier G. Fernandez’s research.
You can find more details at https://sutd.edu.sg/Research/Research-News/2023/7/butterfly-flight-inspires-produce-force-electric