Dragonfly Wings Revolutionize Aircraft Engineering

By: | July 24th, 2023

Image by Pixabay

Throughout history, humans have sought inspiration from nature to enhance flight efficiency, maneuverability, and stability in aviation. 

Nature-Inspired Innovations in Aircraft Engineering

Now, researchers Masoud Akbarzadeh and Hao Zheng from the Weitzman School of Design at the University of Pennsylvania discovered that dragonfly wings could aid in designing lighter, stronger, and more sustainable aircraft wings. They drew inspiration from biomimicry, imitating nature’s strategies, and studied the dragonfly wing to redesign the Boeing 777 wing. 

“Nature’s a great teacher in telling us how to optimize systems,” Akbarzadeh says. “And when you look at a dragonfly, you see wings that have evolved over millions of years into an incredibly lightweight, efficient, and strong structure,” he added.

The researchers found that dragonfly wings’ veins provide durability and flexibility. Dragonflies’ ability to fly with agility and speed served as a source of inspiration for the redesign of the Boeing 777 wing.

Akbarzadeh said, “When we looked closely at the patterns on a dragonfly’s wing, we realized that it includes many convex polygons,” 

“The convex network of the wing is very similar to the efficient networks we design using the method of graphic statics that we research and develop in the lab,” he says. “We thought, ‘Could we use our geometry-based analysis tools to analyze these patterns and recreate them under different conditions for other types of wings?’” 

Decoding Dragonfly Wing Structure

The researchers used Maxwell’s reciprocal diagrams to analyze the dragonfly wing’s geometric vein network. This method provided valuable insights into the wing’s physics and helped inspire the redesign of the Boeing 777 wing.

The team plans to explore the dragonfly wing’s 3D structure for further design inspiration. They also aim to refine their machine learning model, improving predictive capabilities and accuracy in recreating artificial structures based on the wing’s principles. These efforts will advance biomimicry research for innovative solutions in aircraft engineering and beyond.

Nidhi Goyal

Nidhi is a gold medalist Post Graduate in Atmospheric and Oceanic Sciences.

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