Tropical carnivorous plants have inspired protective industrial coatings.
Scientists at Harvard University have used the same principles found in the pitcher plant’s coatings, which are near frictionless surfaces with unique self-healing properties to develop the new coatings.
Scientists have been able to mimic the pitcher plant’s inner skin design to produce a transparent coating that can be economically applied to almost any object – both large and small.
The multi-stage coating process involves attaching a thin, but rough layer of porous silica particles which are used to lock-in a lubricating layer onto the surface to be protected.
The coating reached the finals of this year’s Chemical Engineering (IChemE) Awards.
IChemE chief David Brown stated that “some existing coatings have limitations including contamination and degradation by contaminants, lack of self-healing capabilities, and damage tolerance”.
“By mimicking the pitcher plant’s skin structure, Harvard University’s new coating self-heals almost instantly, even if scrapped with a knife or blade.
“It is capable or operating in extreme temperatures and high pressure, and can be applied to surfaces ranging from metals and semiconductors to paper and cotton fabric.”