Biomimetic Approach to Smart Materials: Structural-Chemical-Functionality Relationships of Nelumbo (Lotus) Leaves

Report No. ARL-TR-6130
Authors: Glenn M. Beatty; Patricia H. Johnson; Rose Pesce Rodriguez; Stephanie Verk; Shashi P. Karna
Date/Pages: September 2012; 24 pages
Abstract: In nature, hierarchically assembled surfaces, such as lotus leaves, often exhibit multiple functions, including photoabsorption, hydrophobicity, and self-cleaning. In order to engineer materials with similar functionalities, it is critically important to develop a fundamental understanding of the chemical and physical properties of the species considered. Toward that end, the goal of this report is to investigate the chemical composition and physical properties of two different species of lotus: the Chinese bowl lotus, a cultivar of the Indian lotus Nelumbo nucifera, and the American lotus Nelumbo lutea. The leaf surfaces of each plant were characterized using static contact angle, contact angle hysteresis, gas chromatography mass spectroscopy, Fourier transform infrared spectroscopy, and differential scanning calorimetry. These various analyses will allow for correlation between the chemical structure and the hydrophobic performance of the lotus leaves. This study represents the first formal comparison of both lotus species N. nucifera and N. lutea on the basis of surface chemistry, hydrophobicity, and self-cleaning characteristics. The results and knowledge generated will allow for the future development of self-cleaning, superhydrophobic surfaces, possibly with additional functionalities.
Distribution: Approved for public release
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Last Update / Reviewed: September 1, 2012