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March 25th, 2004

How plants keep dry

The microscopic structures of some leaves enable them to repel rain and dew. The subtle mechanisms might provide clues for making new water-repellent materials. It has previously been thought that the lotus effect comes from the way that lotus leaves are coated in a waxy film that is bumpy on the scale of micrometres. This roughness enhances the hydrophobicity of the surface. Much the same effect has been used to make super-hydrophobic materials with nanostructured surfaces, on which water droplets will not spread at all .

* Nature

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