Plant leaves have a natural superpower — they’re designed with water repelling characteristics. Called a superhydrophobic surface, this trait allows leaves to cleanse themselves from dust particles. Inspired by such natural designs, a team of researchers at Texas A&M University has developed an innovative way to control the hydrophobicity of a surface to benefit to the biomedical field.
Researchers in Dr. Akhilesh K. Gaharwar’s lab in the Department of Biomedical Engineering have developed a “lotus effect” by incorporating atomic defects in nanomaterials, which could have widespread applications in biomedical field including biosensing, lab-on-a-chip, blood-repellent, anti-fouling and self-cleaning applications.
Superhydrophobic materials are used extensively for self-cleaning characteristic of devices. However, current materials require alteration to the chemistry or topography of the surface to work. This limits the use of superhydrophobic materials.
“Designing hydrophobic surfaces and controlling the wetting behavior has long been of great interest, as it plays crucial role in accomplishing self-cleaning ability.” Gaharwar said. “However, there are limited biocompatible approach to control the wetting behavior of the surface as desired in several biomedical and biotechnological applications.”
The Texas A&M design adopts a ‘nanoflower-like’ assembly of two-dimensional (2D) atomic layers to protect the surface from wetting. The team recently released a study published in Chemical Communications (“Superhydrophobic states of 2D nanomaterials controlled by atomic defects can modulate cell adhesion”).

Image Credit:  Pixabay License

Read more at nanowerk.com

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