Engineering Innovation Podcast and Radio Series

Spider Hair-Inspired Water Repellant

PostedJanuary 30, 2011

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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.