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J R Soc Interface. 2016 Sep;13(122). pii: 20160300. doi: 10.1098/rsif.2016.0300.

Biomimetic self-cleaning surfaces: synthesis, mechanism and applications.

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State Key Laboratory of Heavy Oil Processing, China University of Petroleum (Beijing), Beijing 102249, People's Republic of China
College of Textile, North Carolina State University, Raleigh, NC 27607, USA.
Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering, Rice University, Houston, TX 77005, USA.
Department of Materials Science and Engineering, University of North Texas, Denton, TX 76203, USA


With millions of years of natural evolution, organisms have achieved sophisticated structures, patterns or textures with complex, spontaneous multifunctionality. Among all the fascinating characteristics observed in biosystems, self-cleaning ability is regarded as one of the most interesting topics in biomimicry because of its potential applications in various fields such as aerospace, energy conversion and biomedical and environmental protection. Recently, in-depth studies have been carried out on various compelling biostructures including lotus leaves, shark skins, butterfly wings and gecko feet. To understand and mimic their self-cleaning mechanisms in artificial structures, in this article, recent progress in self-cleaning techniques is discussed and summarized. Based on the underlying self-cleaning mechanisms, the methods are classified into two categories: self-cleaning with water and without water. The review gives a succinct account of the detailed mechanisms and biomimetic processes applied to create artificial self-cleaning materials and surfaces, and provides some examples of cutting-edge applications such as anti-reflection, water repellence, self-healing, anti-fogging and micro-manipulators. The prospectives and directions of future development are also briefly proposed.


adhesion; biomimetic; gecko; lotus effect; nanostructure; self-cleaning

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