/   Home   /   Newsroom   /   News Updates

Applying the Wonders of the Natural World to New Materials

May 09, 2016     Email"> PrintText Size

Jiang Lei applies phenomena found in insects, animals and plants to the development of new materials. (Photo by Tamako Sado) 

 The idea that high technology has been developed solely by people is absurd, says Jiang Lei, professor of the Technical Institute of Physics and Chemistry at the Chinese Academy of Sciences.

There are countless examples of high tech phenomena throughout the natural world.

Jiang traces his achievements back to a pond skater he once saw on a puddle.

He observed that the tip of each leg is covered with microscopic hairs, each tipped with a spiral of tiny bands some 200 nanometers wide. The air trapped within the spiral creates an ultrabuoyant platform which allows each leg to support 15 times the insect's body weight and the creature to move at the equivalent of 400kph for a human.

His findings have frequently appeared on the cover of British scientific journal Nature.

The true value of Jiang's studies are in the numerous applications they have led to.

Using carbon nanotubes, for example, he artificially recreated extremely water repellent structures such as the pond skater's legs, which can be used as coating materials to protect delicate objects.

Another significant achievement was the recreation of the surface structure of fish scales that repel oil and dirt, with the results now used to protect ship hulls.

Jiang joined the prestigious Chinese Academy of Sciences when he was in his 30s as part of a government program to bring distinguished academics back to China from abroad. He now leads a team of 60 researchers.

At an academic conference in Germany, his mind was set racing when someone commented on the beauty of lotus flowers in a pond. He observed that raindrops rolled off the surface of the leaves, carrying dirt with them. Jiang discovered this was due to thousands of microscopic bumps that give the leaf an extreme hydrophobicity.

Skeptics questioned the value of his research, but Jiang was undeterred. "I couldn't stop before I found answers," he recalled.

In 2001, Jiang's work on the structure of lotus leaves was published, paving the way for a number of applications in waterproof and dirt-resistant materials. (Asian Review)


(Editor: CHEN Na)



Related Articles

LED; gallium nitride; carbon nanotube; nanotechnology

Improving Gallium Nitride LED Material Quality Using Carbon Nanotubes

Jun 04, 2015

Chinese scientists used the CNTs to create patterned sapphire substrates (CNPSS) on which to grow III-nitride epitaxial layers. The aim was to improve both crystal quality and light extraction efficiency. Threading dislocations (TDs) reduce the efficiency of light emissio...

polyhedron assembly;supercapacitor;flexible electronic;energy density;carbon nanotube

Scientists Propose a Continuous Carbon Nitride Polyhedron Assembly for High-Performance Flexible Supercapacitors

Apr 27, 2017

Recently, a team of researchers, led by Prof. CHEN Wei at Suzhou Institute of Nano-Tech and Nano-Bionics (SINANO), Chinese Academy of Sciences, proposed a novel assembly strategy to fabricate a flexible supercapacitor with high energy capacity and long cycling life.

Contact Us

Copyright © 2002 - Chinese Academy of Sciences