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Free and open to the public


Research Pavilion, Room 475 (NanoScience Technology Center)


Millions of years of evolution have perfected "synthetic" strategies in Nature that lead to superior materials and elegant structures, such as "self-cleaning" lotus leaves and exquisite siliceous cell wall of diatom. In this talk, I will discuss our recent attempts to obtain super-repellent surfaces and starfruit-like silica particles, by mimicking their naturally occurring counterparts.

The well-known self-cleaning property of the lotus leaf is due to a combination of proper chemistry and unique multilength-scale surface topology. We have successfully mimicked the dual-scale structure by incorporating raspberry-like silica particles to polymer films, which have been turned superhydrophobic. For practical applications, it is also highly desirable for superhydrophobic surfaces to be oil repellent; so we further examined the feasibility to achieve oil repellency on structured surfaces. By modifying multilength-scale structured surfaces with perfluoroalkyl chains, we successfully obtained (super) oil-repellent surfaces, including superoleophobic textiles.

By using a chitosan-phosphate complex as the soluble directing agent in biomimetic silicification, we obtained unique starfruit-like silica particles. CryoTEM and CryoET (electron tomography) confirmed the templating effect of chitosan in biosilicification: the chitosan-phosphate complex formed 3D starfruit-like aggregates, by which the starfruit-shaped silica particles were directed to form.