Clarkson scientists using atomic force to record sounds inside insects like Ladybugs
Sunday, May 23, 2010 - 8:15 am

POTSDAM -- A team of Clarkson University scientists led by Prof. Igor Sokolov are using atomic force microscopy (AFM) to record sounds emanating from inside living insects like flies, mosquitoes and ladybugs.

AFM is one of major scientific tools responsible for the emergence of nanotechnology.

The unprecedented sensitivity of AFM has allowed the Clarkson team to record sub-nano oscillations of very faint amplitude -- less than the size of one atom-- at high frequencies of up to 1,000 hertz, or cycles per second.

Previous work in the study of insects was only done at up to 5 hertz.

The sounds are recorded by touching the surface of the bugs with an AFM probe.

The study of these sounds may allow researchers to discover unknown features and physiology of insects. Prof. Sokolov hopes these discoveries may help in finding solutions to the problems caused by insect pests.

"Insects are of general interest not only as the most numerous and diverse group of animals on the planet, but also as highly efficient bio-machines varying greatly in size," says Sokolov. "Some are major agricultural pests and competitors of humans for crops. Mosquitoes and other insects are important vectors of plant, animal, and human diseases. Also, vast lands of the earth are still underdeveloped because they are occupied by blood-sucking insects."

You can listen to audio files of the internal sounds of mosquitoes, flies, and ladybugs at ftp.aip.org/epaps/appl_phys_lett/E-APPLAB-96-038950 .

The Sokolov team's research was performed within the Nanoengineering and Biotechnology Laboratories Center (NABLAB), a unit established to promote cross-disciplinary collaborations within the University and led by Sokolov. It comprises more than a dozen faculty members to capitalize on the expertise of Clarkson scholars in the areas of cancer cell research, fine particles for bio and medical applications, synthesis of smart materials, advancement biosensors, and more applications.