Many of out inventions and breakthroughs in science have come from the natural world. Whether its rubber tyres from trees, Velcro, cats eyes or gortex fabric nature has had millions of years of trail and error through natural selection to hone its characteristics to best take advantage of its environment for survival.
The latest breakthrough in materials research takes us one step towards predictions of the future with its potential for self-cleaning and self-repairing walls, Slippery Liquid-Infused Porous Surfaces or SLIPS for short comes from research into the walls carnivorous pitcher plant. The Nepenthes pitcher plant captures its prey through the slipperiness of its leaves. As a small insect or bug lands on the up parts of the pitcher plant, its surface is so slippery that the insect just slides down into a sap that acts to dissolve the creature for its nutrients. SLIPS technology mimics the surface of the pitcher plant creating an incredibly efficient repellent of both liquids and oils that flow over it. Unlike other non-stick surfaces such as Teflon if the SLIPS surface becomes damaged it can repair and clean itself maintaining the integrity of the repellent surface.
The implications of this plant inspired technology are revolutionary, imagine going out on an icy morning and not having to defrost the car since water doesn’t stick it cant freeze up the windows. Walls were graffiti cant stick, medical tubing that can’t clog, pipelines in extreme conditions becoming more efficient.
For the original paper :- http://www.nature.com/nature/journal/v477/n7365/full/nature10447.html