Superhydrophobicity — The Lotus Effect

Students are introduced to superhydrophobic surfaces and the "lotus effect." Water spilled on a superhydrophobic surface does not wet the surface, but simply rolls off. Additionally, as water moves across the superhydrophobic surface, it picks up and carries away any foreign material, such as dust or dirt. Students learn how plants create and use superhydrophobic surfaces in nature and how engineers have created human-made products that mimic the properties of these natural surfaces. They also learn about the tendency of all superhydrophobic surfaces to develop water droplets that do not roll off the surface but become "pinned" under certain conditions, such as water droplets formed from condensation. They see how the introduction of mechanical energy can "unpin" these water droplets and restore the desirable properties of the superhydrophobic surface.