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1.  The capillary adhesion technique: a versatile method for determining the liquid adhesion force and sample stiffness 
Summary
We report a novel, practical technique for the concerted, simultaneous determination of both the adhesion force of a small structure or structural unit (e.g., an individual filament, hair, micromechanical component or microsensor) to a liquid and its elastic properties. The method involves the creation and development of a liquid meniscus upon touching a liquid surface with the structure, and the subsequent disruption of this liquid meniscus upon removal. The evaluation of the meniscus shape immediately before snap-off of the meniscus allows the quantitative determination of the liquid adhesion force. Concurrently, by measuring and evaluating the deformation of the structure under investigation, its elastic properties can be determined. The sensitivity of the method is remarkably high, practically limited by the resolution of the camera capturing the process. Adhesion forces down to 10 µN and spring constants up to 2 N/m were measured. Three exemplary applications of this method are demonstrated: (1) determination of the water adhesion force and the elasticity of individual hairs (trichomes) of the floating fern Salvinia molesta. (2) The investigation of human head hairs both with and without functional surface coatings (a topic of high relevance in the field of hair cosmetics) was performed. The method also resulted in the measurement of an elastic modulus (Young’s modulus) for individual hairs of 3.0 × 105 N/cm2, which is within the typical range known for human hair. (3) Finally, the accuracy and validity of the capillary adhesion technique was proven by examining calibrated atomic force microscopy cantilevers, reproducing the spring constants calibrated using other methods.
doi:10.3762/bjnano.6.2
PMCID: PMC4311649
adhesion; AFM cantilever; air layer; capillary forces; hairs; measurement; micromechanical systems; microstructures; Salvinia effect; Salvinia molesta; sensors; stiffness; superhydrophobic surfaces
2.  Measuring air layer volumes retained by submerged floating-ferns Salvinia and biomimetic superhydrophobic surfaces 
Summary
Some plants and animals feature superhydrophobic surfaces capable of retaining a layer of air when submerged under water. Long-term air retaining surfaces (Salvinia-effect) are of high interest for biomimetic applications like drag reduction in ship coatings of up to 30%. Here we present a novel method for measuring air volumes and air loss under water. We recorded the buoyancy force of the air layer on leaf surfaces of four different Salvinia species and on one biomimetic surface using a highly sensitive custom made strain gauge force transducer setup. The volume of air held by a surface was quantified by comparing the buoyancy force of the specimen with and then without an air layer. Air volumes retained by the Salvinia-surfaces ranged between 0.15 and 1 L/m2 depending on differences in surface architecture. We verified the precision of the method by comparing the measured air volumes with theoretical volume calculations and could find a good agreement between both values. In this context we present techniques to calculate air volumes on surfaces with complex microstructures. The introduced method also allows to measure decrease or increase of air layers with high accuracy in real-time to understand dynamic processes.
doi:10.3762/bjnano.5.93
PMCID: PMC4077374  PMID: 24991518
air layer; biomimetic; drag reduction; functional surfaces; plastron; Salvinia effect; volume measurement
3.  Hierarchically structured superhydrophobic flowers with low hysteresis of the wild pansy (Viola tricolor) – new design principles for biomimetic materials 
Summary
Hierarchically structured flower leaves (petals) of many plants are superhydrophobic, but water droplets do not roll-off when the surfaces are tilted. On such surfaces water droplets are in the “Cassie impregnating wetting state”, which is also known as the “petal effect”. By analyzing the petal surfaces of different species, we discovered interesting new wetting characteristics of the surface of the flower of the wild pansy (Viola tricolor). This surface is superhydrophobic with a static contact angle of 169° and very low hysteresis, i.e., the petal effect does not exist and water droplets roll-off as from a lotus (Nelumbo nucifera) leaf. However, the surface of the wild pansy petal does not possess the wax crystals of the lotus leaf. Its petals exhibit high cone-shaped cells (average size 40 µm) with a high aspect ratio (2.1) and a very fine cuticular folding (width 260 nm) on top. The applied water droplets are in the Cassie–Baxter wetting state and roll-off at inclination angles below 5°. Fabricated hydrophobic polymer replicas of the wild pansy were prepared in an easy two-step moulding process and possess the same wetting characteristics as the original flowers. In this work we present a technical surface with a new superhydrophobic, low adhesive surface design, which combines the hierarchical structuring of petals with a wetting behavior similar to that of the lotus leaf.
doi:10.3762/bjnano.2.27
PMCID: PMC3148064  PMID: 21977435
anti-adhesive; petal effect; petal structures; polymer replication; superhydrophobic
4.  Superhydrophobicity in perfection: the outstanding properties of the lotus leaf 
Summary
Lotus leaves have become an icon for superhydrophobicity and self-cleaning surfaces, and have led to the concept of the ‘Lotus effect’. Although many other plants have superhydrophobic surfaces with almost similar contact angles, the lotus shows better stability and perfection of its water repellency. Here, we compare the relevant properties such as the micro- and nano-structure, the chemical composition of the waxes and the mechanical properties of lotus with its competitors. It soon becomes obvious that the upper epidermis of the lotus leaf has developed some unrivaled optimizations. The extraordinary shape and the density of the papillae are the basis for the extremely reduced contact area between surface and water drops. The exceptional dense layer of very small epicuticular wax tubules is a result of their unique chemical composition. The mechanical robustness of the papillae and the wax tubules reduce damage and are the basis for the perfection and durability of the water repellency. A reason for the optimization, particularly of the upper side of the lotus leaf, can be deduced from the fact that the stomata are located in the upper epidermis. Here, the impact of rain and contamination is higher than on the lower epidermis. The lotus plant has successfully developed an excellent protection for this delicate epistomatic surface of its leaves.
doi:10.3762/bjnano.2.19
PMCID: PMC3148040  PMID: 21977427
epicuticular wax; leaf surface; Lotus effect; papillae; water repellency
5.  Superhydrophobic surfaces of the water bug Notonecta glauca: a model for friction reduction and air retention 
Summary
Superhydrophobic surfaces of plants and animals are of great interest for biomimetic applications. Whereas the self-cleaning properties of superhydrophobic surfaces have been extensively investigated, their ability to retain an air film while submerged under water has not, in the past, received much attention. Nevertheless, air retaining surfaces are of great economic and ecological interest because an air film can reduce friction of solid bodies sliding through the water. This opens perspectives for biomimetic applications such as low friction fluid transport or friction reduction on ship hulls. For such applications the durability of the air film is most important. While the air film on most superhydrophobic surfaces usually lasts no longer than a few days, a few semi-aquatic plants and insects are able to hold an air film over a longer time period. Currently, we found high air film persistence under hydrostatic conditions for the elytra of the backswimmer Notonecta glauca which we therefore have chosen for further investigations. In this study, we compare the micro- and nanostructure of selected body parts (sternites, upper side of elytra, underside of elytra) in reference to their air retaining properties. Our investigations demonstrate outstanding air film persistence of the upper side of the elytra of Notonecta glauca under hydrostatic and hydrodynamic conditions. This hierarchically structured surface was able to hold a complete air film under hydrostatic conditions for longer than 130 days while on other body parts with simple structures the air film showed gaps (underside of elytra) or even vanished completely after a few days (sternites). Moreover, the upper side of the elytra was able to keep an air film up to flow velocities of 5 m/s. Obviously the complex surface structure with tiny dense microtrichia and two types of larger specially shaped setae is relevant for this outstanding ability. Besides high air film persistence, the observation of a considerable fluid velocity directly at the air–water interface indicates the ability to reduce friction significantly. The combination of these two abilities makes these hierarchically structured surfaces extremely interesting as a biomimetic model for low friction fluid transport or drag reduction on ship hulls.
doi:10.3762/bjnano.2.17
PMCID: PMC3148060  PMID: 21977425
air film; aquatic insects; backswimmer; drag reduction; superhydrophobic surfaces
6.  Biomimetic materials 
doi:10.3762/bjnano.2.16
PMCID: PMC3148063  PMID: 21977424
7.  On the thermogenesis of the Titan arum (Amorphophallus titanum) 
Plant Signaling & Behavior  2009;4(11):1096-1098.
The Titan arum (Araceae) produces the largest bloom of all flowering plants. Its flowering period of two days is divided into a female flowering phase in the first night and a male flowering phase in the second night. Recently, we have documented thermogenesis in the spadix of the Titan arum during the female flowering phase. Here, we document a second thermogenic phase in which the male florets are heated during the male flowering phase. Obviously the two nocturnal thermogenic phases are linked with the two flowering periods. These observations now allow a more detailed understanding of the flowering behavior of the Titan arum.
PMCID: PMC2819525  PMID: 19838070
Amorphophallus titanum; araceae; thermogenesis; infrared thermography; pollination
8.  Projected impacts of climate change on regional capacities for global plant species richness 
Climate change represents a major challenge to the maintenance of global biodiversity. To date, the direction and magnitude of net changes in the global distribution of plant diversity remain elusive. We use the empirical multi-variate relationships between contemporary water-energy dynamics and other non-climatic predictor variables to model the regional capacity for plant species richness (CSR) and its projected future changes. We find that across all analysed Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change emission scenarios, relative changes in CSR increase with increased projected temperature rise. Between now and 2100, global average CSR is projected to remain similar to today (+0.3%) under the optimistic B1/+1.8°C scenario, but to decrease significantly (−9.4%) under the ‘business as usual’ A1FI/+4.0°C scenario. Across all modelled scenarios, the magnitude and direction of CSR change are geographically highly non-uniform. While in most temperate and arctic regions, a CSR increase is expected, the projections indicate a strong decline in most tropical and subtropical regions. Countries least responsible for past and present greenhouse gas emissions are likely to incur disproportionately large future losses in CSR, whereas industrialized countries have projected moderate increases. Independent of direction, we infer that all changes in regional CSR will probably induce on-site species turnover and thereby be a threat to native floras.
doi:10.1098/rspb.2010.0120
PMCID: PMC2894901  PMID: 20335215
biodiversity patterns; global warming; water-energy dynamics; water-energy-richness hypothesis

Results 1-8 (8)