Engineering Innovation Podcast and Radio Series

Slippery Spider Hair

PostedMarch 28, 2010

Download File (mp3)

Randy Atkins: Spiders apparently stay dry because of their messy and uneven hair.  So Wolfgang Sigmund, a University of Florida engineer, mimicked their disheveled ‘do on the surface of a plastic film.  

Wolfgang Sigmund: The structures almost look like they’re damaged or bad because the hairs are crooked, some are completely bent, the distance varies in between the hairs.

Randy Atkins: Microscopic images show that chaotic physical structure keeps water droplets in a perfect sphere, and the new material dry and clean.

Wolfgang Sigmund: Basically with the water that’s rolling off the dirt is being transported away.

Randy Atkins: And Sigmund says repelling water with physics, rather than chemistry, may pose fewer health risks.  With the National Academy of Engineering, Randy Atkins, 103-point-5 F-M and WTOP-dot-com.