CAREER: Nature's Mix and Match: Designing Omniphobic Surfaces with Multi-Functional Characteristics

Project: Research project

Project Details


This Faculty Early Career Development (CAREER) grant provides funding for the design and development of a new class of biologically inspired liquid-repellent materials with multi-functional characteristics. The blueprints of these bio-inspired materials is based on the surface engineering principles of multiple natural species, including but not limited to the lotus leaf, butterfly, Tokay gecko, beetle, springtail, and the pitcher plant. Enabled by their surface architectures at the micro and nanometer scales, many of these natural species exhibit unique macroscopic wetting, adhesion, and optical properties. In understanding these natural surface architectures, novel biologically inspired materials engineered to have multi-functional capabilities will be developed using advanced micro- and nanomanufacturing techniques. Combinations of functions, such as directional liquid repellency, friction reduction, water harvesting, as well as switchable wetting, adhesion, and optical characteristics, are of particularly interest.

The results of this research will lead to the development of a new class of multi-functional materials and surface coatings with various industrial and medical applications, including but not limited to coatings for anti-biofouling, anti-icing, friction reduction, camouflage, reversible adhesion, thermal management, and fluid collection or separation. Through a 'mix and match' of various natural surface engineering mechanisms, these multi-functional materials will further enrich the existing library of biologically inspired materials, in which most of these materials are currently modeled after individual natural species. The research will also contribute to the development of novel multi-functional materials exhibiting interplay between wetting, adhesion, and optical properties. Ultimately, the outcomes of this research will enhance the public understanding of biologically inspired technology, as well as their importance to technological advancement.

Effective start/end date5/1/144/30/21


  • National Science Foundation: $461,739.00


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