A team of researchers at IIT Mandi in India have come up with unique materials that are able to mimic the intricate structures on plants which capture water from the air, thereby harvesting water from fog and dew drops.
“There are several plants in arid and semi-arid regions of the world whose leaves can harvest water from dew and fog. If they can do it, so can we,” said Dr Venkata Krishnan, Associate Professor of Chemistry at the School of Basic Sciences, IIT Mandi.
The IIT research team studied a specific plant–the Dragon’s lily head–for its unique surface property. While studying the surface, the researchers found some interesting observations like well-arranged conical spines with sharp edges and gradient grooves which were arranged in order. They also found that the conical spines give a larger surface area, hence more fog gets deposited, and the grooves were used to transport the water that was once fog.
Replicating this design on a polymer material using a lithographic technique, the researches could mimic the particular structural trait.