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The dragonfly’s flight technique uncovered

The complicated structure of the dragonfly’s wings makes them sturdier and increases their stability and flexibility in the air, without affecting the aerodynamics. The research results may become applicable in the wind power industry and in the development of new, lightweight and strong materials.
An American emperor dragonfly accelerates streaks of smoke down when it flaps its four wings. The photo has been edited. PHOTO: IGOR SIWANOWICZ/HUAI-TI LIN
An American emperor dragonfly accelerates streaks of smoke down when it flaps its four wings. The photo has been edited. PHOTO: IGOR SIWANOWICZ/HUAI-TI LIN

The wings and flight of the dragonfly have been studied by researchers at the Faculty of Science at Lund University in Sweden, together with colleagues in the UK, Japan and the USA.

The structure of the wings helps create a wing that is flexible, strong and sturdy, and increases flight efficiency dramatically.

The aerodynamics is not affected by the structure of the wings, but by their shape. The wing shape also contributes to the dragonflies’ high efficiency in the air, managing to catch their prey in nine out of ten cases.

“An understanding of aerodynamic efficiency can be become useful in wind power and aircraft development. The wing structure’s complicated system for sturdiness might become of use in materials research and provide light yet strong materials”, says researcher Per Henningsson.

The results are published in an article in the scientific journal Philosophical Transactions B.

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