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Taking Inspiration from Nature: Professor Wei Zung-Hang’s Research Gain International Recognition
The attractive landscape and great variety of plants and trees on the NTHU campus has long served as a source of creative inspiration for researchers. As a case in point, inspired by the lotus plants on campus, a research team led by Wei Zung-Hang of the Department of Power Mechanical Engineering (PME) has recently used magnetic technology and a micro/nano structure mold to develop a material with a nanometer superhydrophobicity structure similar to that of the lotus leaf. Due to its ability to channel water droplets in a particular direction, such a material is suitable for use in windshields and marine craft. The research team has already applied for a patent and their research report was published in the latest issue of Advanced Functional Materials.
 
According to Prof. Wei, contemporary engineers have begun to recognize that natural structures have become highly refined while evolving over eons of time. As a result, learning from the nature has become an important part of contemporary engineering.
 
According to team member and PME doctoral student Huang Zhen‐Yu, many organisms have a microstructure which channels water away so as to keep it dry and clean. Notable examples include the lotus leaf, butterfly wings, and flower petals. The main inspiration for the present research came from the Lantana camara (wild sage) commonly seen on the NTHU campus. Huang smilingly recalls how surprised she was when Professor Wei suggested collecting plant specimens from around the campus and using an electron microscope to inspect the microstructure of their leaves. She was even more surprised to discover that most of the leaves had a trichome microstructure which channels water in a particular direction.
 
While investigating the influence that the angle of a leave’s trichome has on its superhydrophobicity and ability to store water, the research team developed an innovative way of using ferrofluid as a mold for producing conical microstructures of various angles similar to those observed in leaves. In the process, they discovered how the angle of the conical structure affects superhydrophobicity and the channeling of water. Their research continued for over a year, during the course of which they determined the optimal angle for both superhydrophobicity and the channeling of water. They were also impressed by the key role that the angle of a leaf’s trichome has on a plant’s ability to store and channel water.
 
The research team has already applied for patents for the production process and the method for determining the optimal angle of the nanometer super-hydrophobicity structure. The applications of this innovative technology could include the glass used in tall buildings, bathroom fixtures, automobile windshields, motorcycle helmets, and watercrafts.
 
The report is titled “Anisotropic Wettability of Biomimetic Micro/Nano Dual-Scale Inclined Cones Fabricated by Ferrofluid-Molding Method” (DOI: 10.1002/adfm.201500359), and appears in the March issue of Advanced Functional Materials.
 
A research team led by Professor Wei Zung‐Hang of the Department of Power Mechanical Engineering has recently used magnetic technology and a microstructure mold to develop a material with a micro/nano superhydrophobicity structure. Using images of leaves produced with an electron microscope, the research team developed an innovative way of using ferrofluid as a mold for producing conical microstructures of various angles similar to those observed in leaves.

A research team led by Professor Wei Zung‐Hang of the Department of Power Mechanical Engineering has recently used magnetic technology and a microstructure mold to develop a material with a micro/nano superhydrophobicity structure. Using images of leaves produced with an electron microscope, the research team developed an innovative way of using ferrofluid as a mold for producing conical microstructures of various angles similar to those observed in leaves.

The main inspiration for this innovative research came from the Lantana camara (wild sage) commonly seen on the NTHU campus.

The main inspiration for this innovative research came from the Lantana camara (wild sage) commonly seen on the NTHU campus.

This innovative research project is featured on the cover of the latest issue of Advanced Functional Materials.

This innovative research project is featured on the cover of the latest issue of Advanced Functional Materials.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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