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.
anti-adhesive; petal effect; petal structures; polymer replication; superhydrophobic
The effects of the addition of fibres of bacterial cellulose (FBC) to commercial starch of Mater-Bi® have been investigated. FBC produced by cultivating Acetobacter xylinum for 21 days in glucose-based medium were purified by sodium hydroxide 2.5 wt % and sodium hypochlorite 2.5 wt % overnight, consecutively. To obtain water-free BC nanofibres, the pellicles were freeze dried at a pressure of 130 mbar at a cooling rate of 10 °C min−1. Both Mater-Bi and FBC were blended by using a mini twin-screw extruder at 160 °C for 10 min at a rotor speed of 50 rpm. Tensile tests were performed according to ASTM D638 to measure the Young’s modulus, tensile strength and elongation at break. A field emission scanning electron microscope was used to observe the morphology at an accelerating voltage of 10 kV. The crystallinity (T
c) and melting temperature (T
m) were measured by DSC. Results showed a significant improvement in mechanical and thermal properties in accordance with the addition of FBC into Mater-Bi. FBC is easily incorporated in Mater-Bi matrix and produces homogeneous Mater-Bi/FBC composite. The crystallinity of the Mater-Bi/FBC composites decrease in relation to the increase in the volume fraction of FBC.
bacterial cellulose; bio-nanocomposites; Mater-Bi; mechanical; thermal
Plant surfaces showing hierarchical structuring are frequently found in plant organs such as leaves, petals, fruits and stems. In our study we focus on the level of cell shape and on the level of superimposed microstructuring, leading to hierarchical surfaces if both levels are present. While it has been shown that epicuticular wax crystals and cuticular folds strongly reduce insect attachment, and that smooth papillate epidermal cells in petals improve the grip of pollinators, the impact of hierarchical surface structuring of plant surfaces possessing convex or papillate cells on insect attachment remains unclear. We performed traction experiments with male Colorado potato beetles on nine different plant surfaces with different structures. The selected plant surfaces showed epidermal cells with either tabular, convex or papillate cell shape, covered either with flat films of wax, epicuticular wax crystals or with cuticular folds. On surfaces possessing either superimposed wax crystals or cuticular folds we found traction forces to be almost one order of magnitude lower than on surfaces covered only with flat films of wax. Independent of superimposed microstructures we found that convex and papillate epidermal cell shapes slightly enhance the attachment ability of the beetles. Thus, in plant surfaces, cell shape and superimposed microstructuring yield contrary effects on the attachment of the Colorado potato beetle, with convex or papillate cells enhancing attachment and both wax crystals or cuticular folds reducing attachment. However, the overall magnitude of traction force mainly depends on the presence or absence of superimposed microstructuring.
cuticular folds; epicuticular wax crystals; insect–plant interaction; papillae; structure–function relationship
The slippery zone in pitchers of the carnivorous plant Nepenthes alata bears scattered prominent lunate cells and displays continuous epicuticular crystalline wax coverage. The aim of this study was to examine the influence of the surface anisotropy, caused by the shape of lunate cells, on insect attachment ability. Traction tests with ladybird beetles Coccinella septempunctata were performed in two types of experiments, where surface samples of (1) intact pitchers, (2) chemically de-waxed pitchers, and (3) their polymer replicas were placed horizontally. Beetle traction forces were measured when they walked on test surfaces in either an upward (towards the peristome) or downward (towards the pitcher bottom) direction, corresponding to the upright or inverted positions of the pitcher. On intact pitcher surfaces covered with both lunate cells and wax crystals, experiments showed significantly higher forces in the direction towards the pitcher bottom. To distinguish between the contributions, from claw interlocking and pad adhesion, to insect attachment on the pitcher surfaces, intact versus claw-ablated beetles were used in the second type of experiment. On both de-waxed plant samples and their replicas, intact insects generated much higher forces in the downward direction compared to the upward one, whereas clawless insects did not. These results led to the conclusion that, (i) due to the particular shape of lunate cells, the pitcher surface has anisotropic properties in terms of insect attachment, and (ii) claws were mainly responsible for attachment enhancement in the downward pitcher direction, since, in this direction, they could interlock with overhanging edges of lunate cells.
adhesive pads; claws; Coccinella septempunctata; insect–plant interactions; traction force
The lateral line system of fish consists of superficial neuromasts, and neuromasts embedded in lateral line canals. Lateral line neuromasts allow fish to sense both minute water motions and pressure gradients, thereby enabling them to detect predators and prey or to recognize and discriminate stationary objects while passing them. With the aid of the lateral line, fish can also sense vortices caused by an upstream object or by undulatory swimming movements of fish. We show here that artificial lateral line canals equipped with optical flow sensors can be used to detect the water motions generated by a stationary vibrating sphere, the vortices caused by an upstream cylinder or the water (air) movements caused by a passing object. The hydrodynamic information retrieved from optical flow sensors can be used to calculate bulk flow velocity and thus the size of the cylinder that shed the vortices. Even a bilateral sensor platform equipped with only one artificial lateral line canal on each side is sufficient to determine the position of an upstream cylinder.
artificial lateral line; biomimetics; flow sensor; mechanoreception; optical sensor
We present here the first results on the self-assembly of tubules of natural wax from lotus leaves on a single crystal Au(111) surface. A comparison of the tubule growth on Au(111) to that on HOPG is discussed. Although the tubule formation on both Au(111) and HOPG takes place on an intermediate wax film which should mask the substrate properties, the tubule orientations differ. In contrast to a vertical tubule orientation on HOPG, the tubules lie flat on Au(111). Taking into account the physical properties of HOPG and Au(111), we put forward a hypothesis which can explain the different tubule orientations on both substrates.
AFM; Au(111); lotus wax
The natural composite nacre is characterised by astonishing mechanical properties, although the main constituent is a brittle mineral shaped as tablets interdispersed by organic layers. To mimic the natural formation process which takes place at ambient conditions an understanding of the mechanism responsible for a defined microstructure of nacre is necessary. Since proteins are assumed to be involved in this mechanism, it is advantageous to identify distinct proteins interacting with minerals from the totality of proteins contained in nacre. Here, we adopted and modified a recently published approach given by Suzuki et al.  that gives a hint of specific protein–mineral interactions. Synthesised aragonite or calcite microcrystals were incubated with a protein mixture extracted from nacre of Haliotis laevigata. After incubation the mineral phase was dissolved and investigated for attached proteins. The results give a hint of one protein that seems to bind specifically to aragonite and not to calcite. The presented protocol seems to be suitable to detect mineral binding proteins quickly and therefore can point to proteins whose mineral binding capabilities should be investigated further.
biomineralisation; biomineralising proteins; Haliotis; nacre; protein–mineral interaction
Background: Controlled transport of microdroplets is a topic of interest for various applications. It is well known that liquid droplets move towards areas of minimum contact angle if placed on a flat solid surface exhibiting a gradient of contact angle. This effect can be utilised for droplet manipulation. In this contribution we describe how controlled droplet movement can be achieved by a surface pattern consisting of cones and funnels whose length scales are comparable to the droplet diameter.
Results: The surface energy of a droplet attached to a cone in a symmetry-preserving way can be smaller than the surface energy of a freely floating droplet. If the value of the contact angle is fixed and lies within a certain interval, then droplets sitting initially on a cone can gain energy by moving to adjacent cones.
Conclusion: Surfaces covered with cone-shaped protrusions or cavities may be devised for constructing “band-conveyors” for droplets. In our approach, it is essentially the surface structure which is varied, not the contact angle. It may be speculated that suitably patterned surfaces are also utilised in biological surfaces where a large variety of ornamentations and surface structuring are often observed.
microdroplets; microfluidics; surface; surface energy; surface structures
Several lizard species that live in arid areas have developed special abilities to collect water with their bodies' surfaces and to ingest the so collected moisture. This is called rain- or moisture-harvesting. The water can originate from air humidity, fog, dew, rain or even from humid soil. The integument (i.e., the skin plus skin derivatives such as scales) has developed features so that the water spreads and is soaked into a capillary system in between the reptiles' scales. Within this capillary system the water is transported to the mouth where it is ingested. We have investigated three different lizard species which have developed the ability for moisture harvesting independently, viz. the Australian thorny devil (Moloch horridus), the Arabian toadhead agama (Phrynocephalus arabicus) and the Texas horned lizard (Phrynosoma cornutum). All three lizards have a honeycomb like micro ornamentation on the outer surface of the scales and a complex capillary system in between the scales. By investigation of individual scales and by producing and characterising polymer replicas of the reptiles' integuments, we found that the honeycomb like structures render the surface superhydrophilic, most likely by holding a water film physically stable. Furthermore, the condensation of air humidity is improved on this surface by about 100% in comparison to unstructured surfaces. This allows the animals to collect moisture with their entire body surface. The collected water is transported into the capillary system. For Phrynosoma cornutum we found the interesting effect that, in contrast to the other two investigated species, the water flow in the capillary system is not uniform but directed to the mouth. Taken together we found that the micro ornamentation yields a superhydrophilic surface, and the semi-tubular capillaries allow for an efficient passive – and for Phrynosoma directed – transport of water.
capillary; horned lizard; rain harvesting; thorny devil; water transport
Beetles of the genus Melanophila and certain flat bugs of the genus Aradus actually approach forest fires. For the detection of fires and of hot surfaces the pyrophilous species of both genera have developed infrared (IR) receptors, which have developed from common hair mechanoreceptors. Thus, this type of insect IR receptor has been termed photomechanic and shows the following two special features: (i) The formation of a complex cuticular sphere consisting of an outer exocuticular shell as well as of a cavernous microfluidic core and (ii) the enclosure of the dendritic tip of the mechanosensitive neuron inside the core in a liquid-filled chamber. Most probably a photomechanic IR sensillum acts as a microfluidic converter of infrared radiation which leads to an increase in internal pressure inside the sphere, which is measured by a mechanosensitive neuron.
A simple model for this biological IR sensor is a modified Golay sensor in which the gas has been replaced by a liquid. Here, the absorbed IR radiation results in a pressure increase of the liquid and the deflection of a thin membrane. For the evaluation of this model analytical formulas are presented, which permits the calculation of the pressure increase in the cavity, the deformation of the membrane and the time constant of an artificial leak to compensate ambient temperature changes. Some organic liquids with high thermal expansion coefficients may improve the deflection of the membrane compared to water.
fire detection; forest fire; Golay cell; infrared sensor; pyrophilous insects
Branching in plants is one of the most important assets for developing large arborescent growth forms with complex crowns. While the form and development of branching in gymnosperms and dicotyledonous trees is widely understood, very little is known about branching patterns and the structure of branch–stem-junctions in arborescent monocotyledons. For a better and quantitative understanding of the functional morphology of branch–stem-junctions in arborescent monocotyledons, we investigated the two species Dracaena reflexa and Freycinetia insignis. While D. reflexa is able to develop large arborescent forms with conspicuous crowns by anomalous secondary growth, F. insignis remains relatively small and is only capable of primary growth. Biomechanical investigations were performed by applying vertical loads up to rupture to lateral branches of both species. This allows the analysis of the fracture mechanics and the determination of the maximal force, stress and strain at rupture as well as the fracture toughness. Functional morphology was correlated with the mechanical behaviour of these plants and compared to data of other dicotyledonous trees. The high energy absorption found in the rupture process of lateral branches of D. reflexa and F. insignis makes them promising biological concept generators with a high potential for biomimetic implementation, i.e., for the development of branched fibre-reinforced technical composites. A wide range of constructional elements with branched (sub-)structures can be optimised by using solutions inspired by plant ramifications, e.g., in automotive and aerospace engineering, architecture, sports equipment and prosthetic manufacturing.
Biomimetics; branching; Dracaena reflexa; Freycinetia insignis; monocotyledons
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.
epicuticular wax; leaf surface; Lotus effect; papillae; water repellency
In the wetting of a solid by a liquid it is often assumed that the substrate is rigid. However, for an elastic substrate the rigidity depends on the cube of its thickness and so reduces rapidly as the substrate becomes thinner as it approaches becoming a thin sheet. In such circumstances, it has been shown that the capillary forces caused by a contacting droplet of a liquid can shape the solid rather than the solid shaping the liquid. A substrate can be bent and folded as a (pinned) droplet evaporates or even instantaneously and spontaneously wrapped on contact with a droplet. When this effect is used to create three dimensional shapes from initially flat sheets, the effect is called capillary origami or droplet wrapping.
In this work, we consider how the conditions for the spontaneous, capillary induced, folding of a thin ribbon substrate might be altered by a rigid surface structure that, for a rigid substrate, would be expected to create Cassie–Baxter and Wenzel effects. For smooth thin substrates, droplet wrapping can occur for all liquids, including those for which the Young’s law contact angle (defined by the interfacial tensions) is greater than 90° and which would therefore normally be considered relatively hydrophobic. However, consideration of the balance between bending and interfacial energies suggests that the tendency for droplet wrapping can be suppressed for some liquids by providing the flexible solid surface with a rigid topographic structure. In general, it is known that when a liquid interacts with such a structure it can either fully penetrate the structure (the Wenzel case) or it can bridge between the asperities of the structure (the Cassie–Baxter case).
In this report, we show theoretically that droplet wrapping should occur with both types of solid–liquid contact. We also derive a condition for the transition between the Cassie–Baxter and Wenzel type droplet wrapping and relate it to the same transition condition known to apply to superhydrophobic surfaces. The results are given for both droplets being wrapped by thin ribbons and for solid grains encapsulating droplets to form liquid marbles.
capillary origami; Cassie; contact angle; superhydrophobic; Wenzel
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.
air film; aquatic insects; backswimmer; drag reduction; superhydrophobic surfaces
Methyl parathion (MP) is a very toxic organophosphate pesticide used as a non-systematic insecticide and acaricide on many corps. As MP and its by-products are highly toxic, they have to be retained to avoid pollution of rivers and lakes. Highly efficient sorbents are hydrotalcites (HTs) (or anionic clays). We have correlated the degradation of an aqueous solution of MP at room temperature, with the basicity of the adsorbing materials. It was found that the metal composition of hydrotalcites determines both the surface electronic properties (basic or acidic) and the sorption capacity. Depending on the basic strength, some calcined hydrotalcites can catalyze the transformation of MP to p-nitrophenol (p-NP) and retain its by-products. Such a process has the advantage of being able to be carried out at room temperature and at the pH of the pesticide solution.
basicity; hydrotalcite; methyl parathion degradation; mixed oxide; organophosphate; pesticide; water pollution
The emerging field of biomimetics allows one to mimic biology or nature to develop nanomaterials, nanodevices, and processes which provide desirable properties. Hierarchical structures with dimensions of features ranging from the macroscale to the nanoscale are extremely common in nature and possess properties of interest. There are a large number of objects including bacteria, plants, land and aquatic animals, and seashells with properties of commercial interest. Certain plant leaves, such as lotus (Nelumbo nucifera) leaves, are known to be superhydrophobic and self-cleaning due to the hierarchical surface roughness and presence of a wax layer. In addition to a self-cleaning effect, these surfaces with a high contact angle and low contact angle hysteresis also exhibit low adhesion and drag reduction for fluid flow. An aquatic animal, such as a shark, is another model from nature for the reduction of drag in fluid flow. The artificial surfaces inspired from the shark skin and lotus leaf have been created, and in this article the influence of structure on drag reduction efficiency is reviewed. Biomimetic-inspired oleophobic surfaces can be used to prevent contamination of the underwater parts of ships by biological and organic contaminants, including oil. The article also reviews the wetting behavior of oil droplets on various superoleophobic surfaces created in the lab.
aquatic animals; biomimetics; drag; lotus plants; shark skin; superhydrophobicity; superoleophobicity
In a cytological analysis of endometriotic lesions neither granulocytes nor
cytotoxic T-cells appear in an appreciable number. Based on this observation we aimed to
know, whether programmed cell death plays an essential role in the destruction of dystopic
endometrium. Disturbances of the physiological mechanisms of apoptosis, a persistence of
endometrial tissue could explain the disease. Another aspect of this consideration is the
proliferation competence of the dystopic mucous membrane.
lesions of 15 patients were examined through a combined measurement of apoptosis
activity with the TUNEL technique (terminal deoxyribosyltransferase mediated dUTP
Nick End Labeling) and the proliferation activity (with the help of the Ki-67-Antigens
using the monoclonal antibody Ki-S5).
Twelve out of 15 women studied showed
a positive apoptotic activity of 3-47% with a proliferation activity of 2-25% of epithelial
cells. Therefore we concluded that the persistence of dystopic endometrium requires
proliferative epithelial cells from middle to lower endometrial layers.
A dystopia misalignment of the epithelia of the upper layers of the functionalism can be
rapidly eliminated by apoptotic procedures.
Apoptosis; Endometriosis; TUNEL Assay
Genome-wide association (GWA) studies have identified over 300 regions associated with more than 70 common diseases1. However, identifying causal genes within an associated region remains a major challenge1,2. One approach to resolving causal genes is through the dissection of gene-phenotype correlations. Here we use polychromatic flow cytometry to show that differences in surface expression of interleukin-2 (IL-2) receptor alpha-chain (IL-2RA, or CD25) protein are restricted to particular immune cell types and correlate with several haplotypes in the IL2RA region that have previously been associated to the autoimmune diseases type 1 diabetes (T1D) and multiple sclerosis2-4. We confirm our strongest gene-phenotype correlation at the RNA level by allele-specific expression (ASE). We also define key parameters for the design and implementation of post-GWA gene-phenotype investigations, and demonstrate the usefulness of a large bioresource of genotype-selectable normal donors from whom fresh, primary cells can be analyzed.
Hematopoiesis is a carefully controlled process that is regulated by complex networks of transcription factors that are, in part, controlled by signals resulting from ligand binding to cell-surface receptors. To further understand hematopoiesis, we have compared gene expression profiles of human erythroblasts, megakaryocytes, B cells, cytotoxic and helper T cells, natural killer cells, granulocytes, and monocytes using whole genome microarrays. A bioinformatics analysis of these data was performed focusing on transcription factors, immunoglobulin superfamily members, and lineage-specific transcripts. We observed that the numbers of lineage-specific genes varies by 2 orders of magnitude, ranging from 5 for cytotoxic T cells to 878 for granulocytes. In addition, we have identified novel coexpression patterns for key transcription factors involved in hematopoiesis (eg, GATA3-GFI1 and GATA2-KLF1). This study represents the most comprehensive analysis of gene expression in hematopoietic cells to date and has identified genes that play key roles in lineage commitment and cell function. The data, which are freely accessible, will be invaluable for future studies on hematopoiesis and the role of specific genes and will also aid the understanding of the recent genome-wide association studies.