NASA Langley Research Center, in collaboration with ATK Space Systems, has developed a method to reduce insect adhesion on metallic substrates, polymeric materials, engineering plastics, and other surfaces. The method topographically modifies a surface using laser ablation patterning followed by chemical modification of the surface. This innovation was originally developed to enhance aircraft laminar flow by preventing insect residue buildup, but the method provides a permanent solution for any application requiring insect adhesion mitigation as well as adhesion prevention of other typical environmental contaminants.
Laser ablation patterning is performed by a commercially available laser system, and the chemical spray deposition is composed of nanometer-sized silica particles with a hydrophobic solution (such as heptadecafluoro- 1,1,2,2-tetrahydrodecyltriethoxysilane) in an aqueous ethanol solution. Both topographic and chemical modification of the substrate are necessary to achieve the desired performance.