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Philos Trans A Math Phys Eng Sci. 2009 Apr 28;367(1893):1487-509. doi: 10.1098/rsta.2009.0022.

Superhydrophobic and superhydrophilic plant surfaces: an inspiration for biomimetic materials.

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  • 1Nees Institute for Biodiversity of Plants, Rheinische Friedrich-Wilhelms University of Bonn, Meckenheimer Allee 170, 53115 Bonn, Germany. koch@uni-bonn.de


The diversity of plant surface structures, evolved over 460 million years, has led to a large variety of highly adapted functional structures. The plant cuticle provides structural and chemical modifications for surface wetting, ranging from superhydrophilic to superhydrophobic. In this paper, the structural basics of superhydrophobic and superhydrophilic plant surfaces and their biological functions are introduced. Wetting in plants is influenced by the sculptures of the cells and by the fine structure of the surfaces, such as folding of the cuticle, or by epicuticular waxes. Hierarchical structures in plant surfaces are shown and further types of plant surface structuring leading to superhydrophobicity and superhydrophilicity are presented. The existing and potential uses of superhydrophobic and superhydrophilic surfaces for self-cleaning, drag reduction during moving in water, capillary liquid transport and other biomimetic materials are shown.

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