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Chemistry In Pictures

Chemistry in Pictures: Wax on, water off

by Manny Morone
June 25, 2019


Chemistry in Pictures is accepting entries to its water-themed contest until July 3. Enter today!

A taro leaf with water droplets beading up on it's surface.
Credit: Bidyut Das
A micrograph of a taro leaf showing small dots on its surface representing raised microstructures.
Credit: Namazu-tron/Wikimedia Commons

In his backyard, Bidyut Das captured how water beads up and rolls off the leaves of the taro plant (Colocasia esculenta). Water droplets don’t adhere to the leaves of this plant for two reasons. First, the leaves cover themselves in a waxy layer, mostly made up of 1-octacosanol, which repels water. Also, if you take a closer look at a taro leaf, you’ll see that the wax forms small raised areas called papillae (bottom, dots). Like microsize pillars, the papillae prop up the water droplets and prevent them from sticking to the leaf below. Material scientists have mimicked these structures—which are found on lotus leaves and several other plants—to make synthetic superhydrophobic surfaces.

Submitted by Bidyut Das (droplets). Credit: Namazu-tron/Wikimedia Commons (micrograph)

Do science. Take pictures. Win money. Enter our photo contest here.

Related C&EN Content:

Chemistry in Pictures: Dancing droplets

Wrinkling Teflon creates a superhydrophobic surface

Lotus Leaves And Mussels Inspire Method For Making Water-Repellent Microparticles.


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