Superhydrophobic nature of nanostructures on an indigenous Australian eucalyptus plant and its potential application
Gérrard Eddy Jai Poinern, Xuan Thi Le, Derek Fawcett
Murdoch Applied Nanotechnology Research Group, Department of Physics, Energy Studies and Nanotechnology, School of Engineering and Energy, Murdoch University, Murdoch, Western Australia
Abstract: In this preliminary study, the morphology and nanostructured features formed by the epicuticular waxes of the mottlecah (Eucalyptus macrocarpa) leaf were investigated and quantified. The surface features formed by the waxes give the leaf remarkable wetting and self-cleaning properties that enhance the plant's survival in an arid climate. This paper also provides experimental evidence of the self-assembly properties of the epicuticular waxes. Analysis of the water contact angle measurements gave a mean static contact angle of 162.00 ± 6.10 degrees, which clearly indicated that the mottlecah's leaf surface was superhydrophobic. Detailed field emission scanning electron microscopy examination revealed that the surface was covered by bumps approximately 20 µm in diameter and regularly spaced at a distance of around 26 µm. The bumps are capped by nanotubules/pillars with an average diameter of 280 nm at the tips. Self-cleaning experiments indicated that the mottlecah's leaf could be effectively cleaned by a fine spray of water droplets that rolled over the surface picking up contaminants. Field emission scanning electron microscopy investigation of extracted epicuticular waxes revealed that the waxes were capable of self-reassembly and formed features similar to those of the original leaf surface. Furthermore, also reported is a simple technique for surface treating one side of a planar surface to produce a superhydrophobic surface that can be used as a planar floatation platform for microdevices.
Keywords: superhydrophobic, nanopillars, epicuticular waxes, self-cleaning, floatation, micro-fluidic
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