Many plant leaf surfaces exhibit superhydrophobicity. Evolution and selection processes over millions of years have refined complex surface topographies to impart a wide array of other properties which should be of great interest to product designers in companies.
Many plant surfaces are patterned with hierarchical micro and nano features which give rise to superhydrophobic properties. It has also been shown that certain feature spacings can result in antimicrobial properties preventing attachment to surfaces and subsequent formation of biofilms. Such properties may be of interest in the medical device industry.
Low friction surfaces
Some species of snake reduce friction with the ground through a combination of lubrication and surface structuring of the underbelly. These complex structures contain nanofeatures in certain positions which has the effect of reducing the coefficient of friction with a second surface. Such properties are of value in any industry where friction is an issue. Similar structures can also effect fluid flow in narrow channels and may be of interest in micro/nano fluidics.
Leaf surfaces which harvest light for photosynthesis in low light conditions often have convex shaped epidermal cells. These structures increase internal surface reflection between and within features to minimise loss of light. Certain mosses which occur only in caves have incredibly complex lens-like surfaces for this purpose. These properties are clearly of interest in solar cell developments and sensor technology. Thin films with such features can be produced in flat film or as 3D objects.