Researchers look to moth wings for sound protection

Photo credit: Egor Kamelev

by Daniel Fink, MD, Chair, The Quiet Coalition

Can technology based on moth wings be adapted for human use? According to a report on Interesting Engineering, that’s the question posed by researchers in the United Kingdom and reported in Proceedings of the Royal Society.

Bats find moths to eat using echolocation. In turn, moths have evolved wing structures composed of microscopic scales to absorb the sound produced by bats, making the moths harder to find.

The researchers placed moth wings on an aluminum disk and found that they absorbed 87% of sound energy. The effect was broadband and omnidirectional.

The caveat is that bats produce sound in the ultrasound frequency range, and it’s not clear if technology based on moth wings will work in the human hearing range of 20 to 20,000 Hertz.

But if it does, maybe humble moths will inspire the next generation of sound absorbing technology.

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