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Smart Coating Learns Lotus’ Lessons

Friday, April 26, 2013

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Mother Nature, the fairy godmother of much new coating technology, has done it again, with a new “super protective” smart coating inspired by the famously water-repellent lotus leaf.

Researchers at Queen's University in Ontario, Canada, have announced the latest “bio-inspired” coating—a class of advances that have drawn on nature's genius in insects, plants, algae and even sperm.

Lotus leaf with dew
treehugger.com

The lotus leaf's natural ability to repel water inspired a new protective coating.

Queens researchers say their new smart coating developed has shown promise in repellling water- and oil-based deposits on a wide range of surfaces, including metal, glass, wood, ceramics, plastics and even fibers.

Discovered by researchers Guojun Liu and Dean Xiong of the university's chemistry department, the coating is showing potential in repellling contaminants, ice, fingerprints, smudges, graffiti and marine fouling, the team said in an announcement.

The researchers are working with Lorama Inc., a Canadian manufacturer and supplier of novel additives to the paint and coatings industry, to commercialize the technology for a broad suite of uses.

PARTEQ Innovations, the university’s technology transfer office, is also working to bring the coating to market. The office works with institutional researchers, industry and the business and venture capital communities to bring early stage technologies to market.

water strider coating
ACS Nano

The talents of the water strider inspired Chinese scientists to develop a coating for a device that can repel oil in water.

“Our discovery was inspired by the lotus leaf, which has given us a wonderful example of a self-cleaning system, designed by nature,” says Liu, a Tier 1 Canada Research Chair in Materials Science and an award-winning researcher.

The industry-academic collaboration is supported by Ontario Centres of Excellence (OCE), which is following up an initial investment of $25,000 with an additional $200,000 in development funding.

Bio-Inspired Bounty

Mother Nature has inspired considerable recent coatings research.

Harvard University scientists have turned to the pitcher plant and the lotus in developing slippery coatings to resist ice and other materials. Chinese scientists have also found anti-fog potential in a lotus-inspired coating.

Brazilian fern
The Ohio State University

The sticky, slippery hairs on the surface of a Brazilian fern have inspired a coating that may reduce drag and boost buoyancy on boats and submarines.

Chinese researchers have produced an oil-repellant coating inspired by the water strider.

Antifouling researchers have found promise in algae and even in invasive weeds, while scientists looking for safer flame-retardant coatings have dabbled in the DNA of herring sperm.

   

Tagged categories: Antifoulants; Anti-graffiti coatings; Biomimicry; Coatings technology; Water repellents

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