Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)


Materials Science and Engineering

Committee Chair/Advisor

Dr. Konstanin G. Kornev

Committee Member

Dr. Philip Brown

Committee Member

Dr. Peter Adler


The butterfly proboscis is a fascinating fiber designed to probe and transport fluids. The built-in sensors and actuators make this fiber multifunctional. The proboscis consists of 2 hollow C-shaped tubes that are united when the butterfly comes out of the pupa. A single galea consists of a solid cuticular wall, muscles, nerves, and tracheae. The proboscis cuticular wall is mainly composed of polymers and small amounts of metals and non-metals. The proboscis is a porous material, and its water content is high, up to 50%. When the butterfly is not hungry, its proboscis is tightly coiled; when the butterfly is about to drink, it uncoils the proboscis. The proboscis still coils on its own after detachment from the butterfly. Unlike any polymeric material demonstrating irreversible deformation prior to breakup, the proboscis remains elastic up to the breaking point. Surprisingly, the proboscis can be stretched only a few percent before breaking. Thus, its behavior resembles the behavior of a brittle ceramic or rigid plastic. Structural organization and shape of the proboscis walls contribute to the mechanical reaction of the proboscis. Pressure inside the proboscis significantly contributes to its flexibility. Understanding the micro- and nano-architecture of this flexible multifunctional composite fiber is important for a wide range of applications, including complex monitoring systems in biomedical applications and direct contact-based drug delivery.



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