The wings of cicadas shed dirt and water via nanoscale protrusions surrounded by air pockets that buoy water droplets.

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"Peng Jiang from the University of Florida is mimicking moth eyes and cicada wings to create new anti-reflective, super transparent, and water-repellent coatings. The coatings can be used to make solar cells more efficient and self-cleaning, and for other uses such as windows and computer screens. The coating mimics the microscopic structure found in moth eyes. Most moth eyes are made up of hexagonal sectors, each of which is filled with thousands of rows of nipple-like protrusions measuring only 300 nanometers. The value of this structure to the moth is that it interferes with transmission and reflection of light, which may protect it from predators as it forages in the moonlight. Jiang also mimics cicada wings which also have a structure similar to moth eyes. However, in this case, the protrusions are surrounded by tiny pockets of air that buoy water droplets. These allow the cicada's wings to shed water and dirt." (Biomimicry Guild Case Studies Database 2008)

“The self-cleaning effect on the wings of cicada induced by surface microstructures has inspired great interest in creating superhydrophobic coatings to prevent contamination, erosion, and bacterial accumulation.9 Although the natural microstructures on moth eyes and cicada wings lead to different biological functionalities, they show remarkable structural similarity, both consisting of non-close-packed (ncp), hexagonally ordered nipple-shaped protrusions with sub- 300-nm-scale dimensions.6,9 This similarity has inspired scientists to generate self-cleaning antireflection coatings (ARCs).10,11” (Sun et al. 2008:051107-1).

Journal article
Bioinspired synthesis of mesoporous silicasCurrent Opinion in Solid State and Materials ScienceFebruary 21, 2004
Qianyao Sun, Engel G Vrieling, Rutger A van Santen, Nico A.J.M Sommerdijk

Journal article
Templated biomimetic multifunctional coatingsAppl. Phys. Lett.February 6, 2008
Chih-Hung Sun, Adriel Gonzalez, Nicholas C. Linn, Peng Jiang, Bin Jiang

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