Designing biomimetic liquid diodes
Just as the innovation of electronic diodes that allow the current to flow in one direction provides a foundation for the development of digital technologies, the engineering of surfaces or devices that allow the directional and spontaneous transport of fluids, termed liquid diodes, is highly desired in a wide spectrum of applications ranging from medical microfluidics, advanced printing, heat management and water collection to oil–water separation. Recent advances in manufacturing, visualization techniques, and biomimetics have led to exciting progress in the design of various liquid diodes. In spite of exciting progress, formulating a general framework broad enough to guide the design, optimization and fabrication of engineered liquid diodes remains a challenging task to date. In this review, we first present an overview of the development of biological and engineered liquid diodes to elucidate how to control the surface chemistry and topography to regulate the transport of liquids without the need for external energy. Then the latest design strategies allowing for the creation of longitudinal and transverse liquid diodes are discussed and compared. We also define some figures of merit such as the rectification coefficient and the transport velocity and distance to quantify the performance of liquid diodes. Finally, we highlight perspectives on the development of engineered liquid diodes that transcend nature and adapt to various practical applications.
- This article is part of the themed collection: Soft Matter 15th Anniversary Perspectives