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Technical Briefs

Lubrication and Surface Properties of Roach Cuticle

[+] Author and Article Information
R. Cooper, H. Lee, J. Butler

Department of Mechanical Engineering, Texas A&M University, College Station, TX 77843-3123

J. M. González, S. B. Vinson

Department of Entomology, Texas A&M University, College Station, TX 77843-3123

H. Liang1

Department of Mechanical Engineering, Texas A&M University, College Station, TX 77843-3123hliang@tamu.edu

1

Corresponding author.

J. Tribol 131(1), 014502 (Dec 04, 2008) (4 pages) doi:10.1115/1.3002327 History: Received March 14, 2008; Revised September 08, 2008; Published December 04, 2008

Using atomic force microscopic and tribometry techniques, we characterized the cuticle surface of the American cockroach (Periplaneta americana) and studied lubrication properties of the wax developed to protect the cuticle. Experimental results showed that the roach cuticle had the ability to self-clean and that there were dimples on its surface to naturally disperse wax. It was observed by changes in friction that a thicker layer of wax was formed at the ventral abdomen, where dimples were present, than at the dorsal abdomen, which had no major features. The wax was found to have similar lubrication properties as commercial automobile oil, but with the ability to form thin films and repel dust. The dust repelling qualities make it a potential candidate for the lubrication of microelectromechanical system and nanoelectromechanical system devices that require supercleaning surfaces that is cost effective.

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Figures

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Figure 1

Silicon sample surface attracts dust particles (circled) after polishing and etching (courtesy of Luohan Peng, Graudate Student, Material Science and Engineering, Texas A&M University)

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Figure 2

Ventral and dorsal sections of the roach used for testing of the roach cuticle

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Figure 3

Ventral abdomen segments with indication of the direction of pin travel for tribometry testing

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Figure 4

AFM surface images of ventral and dorsal abdomens of the American cockroach. A consistent distribution of the pores throughout the ventral abdomen indicates that they are not caused by injuries.

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Figure 5

Friction results of dorsal abdomen (a) with the natural roach wax still on the cuticle, and (b) with the wax removed by rinsing with methane and acetone

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Figure 6

Friction results of the ventral abdomen (a) with the natural roach wax on the cuticle, and (b) with the wax removed by rinsing with methane and acetone

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Figure 7

Friction coefficient versus time (in seconds) of alumina pin on stainless steel substrate with no lubrication, roach wax, and motor oil. Lubrication properties of the roach wax are comparable to those of motor oil.

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