A team at James Cook University (JCU) have discovered how geckos manage to stay clean, hoping their discovery will change the future of hydrophobic materials. The findings show that droplets of water fall on 100,000s of extremely small hair-like spines that cover geckos’ bodies before ejecting off the surface. JCU scientists were aware that hydrophobic surfaces repelled water, and that the rolling droplets helped clean the surfaces of insects, but this is the first time it has been documented in a vertebrate animal.
JCU’s Professor Lin Schwarzkopf explains the phenomenon to a similar application with car wax. She said, “If you have seen how drops of water roll off a car after it is waxed, or off a couch that’s had protective spray used on it, you’ve seen the process happening. The wax and spray make the surface very bumpy at micro and nano levels, and the water droplets remain as little balls, which roll easily and come off with gravity or even a slight wind.”
Professor Schwarzkopf suggests the world-first findings may lead to self-drying, bacteria-repellent surfaces with applications such as:
• protecting marine-based electronics that have to shed water quickly in use;
• fabric design to produce ‘superhydrophobic’ clothing that would not get wet or dirty and would never need washing; and
• preventing invasion of bacteria and other pathogens to skin or wound dressings
[img source] Marc (CCA2.0)