The Lotus Effect

Text by and images courtesy of
David Wurtz
2005. Franklin W. Olin College of Engineering

I'm studying the microstructure of lotus plants, which creates the "lotus effect" (see . The lotus effect explains why water (or even honey) rolls right off the lotus. There are millions of tiny mounds on the lotus leaf, each with hundreds of even smaller (nanoscale) wax crystals. This surface does not allow liquid to make intimate contact with the leaf.

I examine their microstructure using a scanning electron microscope (with such a microscope, you can see a scratch on the tip of a needle.) One of my questions is: does one lotus repel water differently than others due to a different microstructure?

Since I have been unable to find mature lotus leaves in winter, I am growing my own plants from seed (photo above). Even though the small leaves exhibit superhydrophoebicity, I think the microstructure may develop into more evenly spaced, similarly sized structures as the plants grow.

Click image to enlarge
Click here for high resolution image

Waterlilies | Lotus | Aquatic Plants | Victoria | Our Adventure With Victoria
Water Gardening | Water Gardening Friends | New This Month
Kit & Ben Knotts | Our Garden | Search The Site | Home 
Email Discussion List | Site Map