Learning from Moths

Air Force Office of Scientific Research-sponsored research at National Taiwan University is applying the anti-reflective properties of moth eyes to the design of protective skins for future unmanned aerial vehicles that could help these aircraft evade optical detection. AFOSR’s international detachment, the Asian Office of Aerospace Research and Development is funding the work of Prof. Li-Chyong Chen, who has produced an anti-reflective nanostructure surface using arrayed silicon nanotips that absorb certain wavelengths of light, just as do moth eyes. In fact, her surface not only mimics the anti-reflective properties of moth eyes, it surpasses them by absorbing almost all of the direct light that falls on it, AFOSR says. And, the surface’s anti-reflective properties are “nearly unaffected” by the angle of the light source, thereby giving the surface broadband and quasi-omni-directional anti-reflection capability and adding to its promise for optical defensive applications. (AFOSR report by Molly Lachance)