The springtail cuticle as a blueprint for omniphobic surfaces
Omniphobic surfaces found in nature have great potential for enabling novel and emerging products and technologies to facilitate the daily life of human societies. One example is the water and even oil-repellent cuticle of springtails (Collembola). The wingless arthropods evolved a highly textured, hierarchically arranged surface pattern that affords mechanical robustness and wetting resistance even at elevated hydrostatic pressures. Springtail cuticle-derived surfaces therefore promise to overcome limitations of lotus-inspired surfaces (low durability, insufficient repellence of low surface tension liquids). In this review, we report on the liquid-repellent natural surfaces of arthropods living in aqueous or temporarily flooded habitats including water-walking insects or water spiders. In particular, we focus on springtails presenting an overview on the cuticular morphology and chemistry and their biological relevance. Based on the obtained liquid repellence of a variety of liquids with remarkable efficiency, the review provides general design criteria for robust omniphobic surfaces. In particular, the resistance against complete wetting and the mechanical stability strongly both depend on the topographical features of the nano- and micropatterned surface. The current understanding of the underlying principles and approaches to their technological implementation are summarized and discussed.
- This article is part of the themed collection: Bioinspired Surfaces and Materials