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 ")

3D Printed Graphene Aerogel - So Light!
'... light as cork and stronger than steel...' - Edgar Rice Burroughs, 1929.

Vantablack Now IMMEASURABLY Black
'a black coating now thatís ninety-nine percent absorptive...' - Doc Smith, 1934.

New Paper - Write With Light Erase With Heat
Writing with light, erasing with heat.

Reconfigured Graphene 10X Strong, 5 Percent Dense, As Steel
'...It was made of Alohydrolium, which is the lightest of all metals.' - Hugo Gernsback, 1911.

 

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

Tesla Semi 'Electrotruck' Unveiled
Elon Musk unveils yet another technological marvel.

Watch What People Are Seeing Via Brain Scanning
'had managed to see through the other man's eyes as the other man, all unaware, washed their Zis limousine sixteen hundred meters away...'

Integrated Circuits Printed Right Onto Fabric!
'...a shirt that displayed email on its sleeve.

Interstellar Asteroid Visits Our Solar System
'This asteroid had whirled in from the cold of the interplanetary space...'

PRIMA Bionic Vision Restoration
'The VISOR... was a medical device used in the Federation to aid patients who have suffered loss of eyesight...'

Audi Traffic Jam Pilot Knows If You're Sleeping
'Even here, riding a garbage truck to eternity, the machine watched him...'

UM Hall Thruster Breaks Records
Someday, we'll see an ion drive used to get to Mars.

Ionity Ultra-fast Charging Station Network
'Recharge the batteries... in almost every town and village...'

VAuth Voice Security Wearable From University of Michigan
'Siri, I gave you a voice command...' 'Yes, but do I know you?'

Ubiquiti FrontRow Camera Records Your Life
Why be choosy? Just upload your whole life to the Internet, and be done with it.

Ancient Ocean On Ceres?
'We sailed gently forward, hull down to the asteroid's surface... A little sea was now beneath us.'

SmileCloud Bubloons Are Custom Clouds
'Spurgle kicked at the letter G... It was a monstrous white thing, ten feet thick, half a city block long...'

Cassie 'Halfbot' Best Half (Lower) Of Humanoid Robot
We can always make it limp along if it gets threatening.

Autonomous Concrete Floor Finishing Robot
Keep those construction site robots coming.

Musk Tweets A Boring Tunnel Pic
'We hit the sub-basement and went at once to the express tubes...'

Shelley.ai AI Terrifies Thanks To Reddit's Nosleep
'How can you compete with IBM?'

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.