Anti-Adhesive Surfaces Of Plants

The war continues - a battle for the ages. Which side will win - arachnids and other insects with sticky feet, or the slippery slopes of passive carnivorous plants like the pitcher plant? Actually, materials scientists who study both sides are the real winners.

Human beings have spent a lot of time looking for perfectly frictionless surface coatings; writers like Clifford Simak and Frank Herbert have imagined them in science fiction. Just as the stickiest surfaces have been found on the feet of natural creatures like geckoes and spiders, slippery surfaces have also been found in the natural world.

Researchers from the Max Planck Insitute for Metals Research and the University of Hohenheim have shown that the carniverous pitcher plant uses an especially slippery slope to catch prey. The plant has a lid, a peristome (a ring around the trap entrance), a slippery zone and a digestive zone.


(Pitcher Plant)

The plant walls of the slippery zone are covered with a double layer of crystalline wax. The upper layer has crystalloids which contaminate the attachment organs that insects use to adhere to surfaces. It is made of single, iregular 30-50 nanometer platelets standing more or less perpendicular to the plant wall.

The lower layer is similar to foam, being made of connected membrane-like platelets which stick out at sharp angles and offer no clear orientation. This layer further reduces the contact area between insect feet and plant surface.

Writing in Way Station, a Hugo-award winning 1963 novel, Clifford Simak imagined an absolutely impenetrable and frictionless coating:

It was as if the knob was covered with some hard, slick coating, like a coat of brittle ice, on which the fingers slipped wihout exerting any pressure on the knob...

He tried a thumbnail on it, and the thumbnail slipped but left no mark behind it... The rubbing of his palm set up no friction...
(Read more about the frictionless surface)

In his 1965 novel Dune (which also won a Hugo), Frank Herbert wrote about a device for water measurement that was absolutely frictionless - no binding tension whatsoever.

Read about water repellent glass modeled on lotus leaves to find out more about a successful instance in which real-world material science was able to imitate nature. On the other side of the coin, take a look at a scientific investigation of the sticky feet of spiders.

Read more at Plants provide new ideas for anti-adhesive surfaces.

Scroll down for more stories in the same category. (Story submitted 1/18/2006)

Follow this kind of news @Technovelgy.

| Email | RSS | Blog It | Stumble | del.icio.us | Digg | Reddit |

Would you like to contribute a story tip? It's easy:
Get the URL of the story, and the related sf author, and add it here.

Comment/Join discussion ( 0 )

Related News Stories - (" Material ")

Self-Healing Material Pulls Carbon Out Of The Air
'... could seal the punctures.' - Raymond Z. Gallun, 1951.

Shapeshifting Materials Transform By Light
'Its lines wavered, flowed, and then painfully reformed.'- Philip K. Dick, 1957.

Superstrong Multilayer Metal-Graphene Composite Material
Negligible increase in weight increased material strength by hundreds of times.

Amphibio 3D Printed Gill Shirt
'... we can descend and live down there at one of those year-round aquatic resorts.' - Philip K. Dick, 1966.

 

Google
  Web TechNovelgy.com   

Technovelgy (that's tech-novel-gee!) is devoted to the creative science inventions and ideas of sf authors. Look for the Invention Category that interests you, the Glossary, the Invention Timeline, or see what's New.

 

 

 

 

 

Current News

SWEEPER Robot Peter Piper Picking Peppers
'... little machines, that went from plant to plant, apparently on caterpillar tracks, cutting off the ripe fruit.'

Oil from Algae - Can It Be Done?
'We dump everything that's waste into the tanks, pump the oil off the top.'

Moving Whole Planets, Revisited
There was a lot of work done on this idea over the years.

Disney Keeps Backups Of Star Wars Franchise Actors
'She is a personality-construct, a congeries of software agents...'

Farming In Space Starts With Mycorrhiza
'The inner leaves were beginning to curl faster than the outer leaves.'

Jaguar I-Pace Audible Vehicle Alert System For EVs
'Of course not a vehicle moved by means of internal explosions of a derivative of rock oil...'

Autonomous 'Fiberbots' Weave Large Structures
'It extrudes material like a spider.'

Birds Aren't Real - Wake Up, California! (With Bird Watching Guide)
'When he had first built them, they had been crude indeed, flying mechanisms with little more than a reflex-response unit.'

Self-Healing Material Pulls Carbon Out Of The Air
'... could seal the punctures.'

IRL Glasses Block Screens, Limit Vision To Real Life
'If you couldn't see the ads, how would you know what was fashionable?'

Testing The Single-Person Spacecraft
'...the lower part of the suit was simply a rigid cylinder.'

Shapeshifting Materials Transform By Light
'Its lines wavered, flowed, and then painfully reformed.'

Fully Automated Farm Iron Ox Hydroponics
'Had these machines in some incredible fashion been provided with brains?'

BrainNet Social Network Of Brains
'I used my implant to tell MILLIE what we wanted and she took care of it'

Phil Nuyttnn's City Under The Sea
'Under the lower roof there was no water, but a clear and luminous atmosphere...'

IONITY Opens First 10 Fast-Charging Stations
'Recharge the batteries... in almost every town and village...'

More SF in the News Stories

More Beyond Technovelgy science news stories

Home | Glossary | Invention Timeline | Category | New | Contact Us | FAQ | Advertise |
Technovelgy.com - where science meets fiction™

Copyright© Technovelgy LLC; all rights reserved.