Research Work Package

PlaMatSu is structured into 5 work packages. All research activities have been grouped in one work package (WP3, Research), which is divided into 9 research tasks, each corresponding to one 36 month long project of an Early Stage Researcher (PhD project).

The research tasks are as follows:-

Task 1: Regulation of cuticle patterning

ESR: Jordan Ferria, PI: Prof. Beverley Glover

The genetic mechanisms and the developmental processes that regulate structure formations in cuticles are only poorly understood. Therefore, this task aims to explore the genetic basis of cuticular patterning and to test the hypothesis that mechanically induced buckling generates cuticular patterning.

Task 2: Design spaces of wrinkled cuticle surfaces

ESR: Venkata A. Surapaneni, PI: Prof. Thomas Speck

Some plant surfaces are known to reduce insect adhesion due to micro- and nano-structuring. One goal of this task is therefore to study the robustness of properties against changes in geometrical configurations of the structures like height, width and distance of cuticular folds. Another goal is to study the dependency of the above mentioned functionalities on variations of the internal pressure of epidermal cells.

Task 3: Cuticle-mimetic layered polymeric materials

ESR: Livia Bast, PI: Prof. Nico Bruns

One function of the lamellae in the cuticle proper is that they act as diffusion barrier for moisture. 1 Whether the cuticle proper also contributes to the optical properties of the plant surface (by a stack of lamellae acting as a Bragg mirror) and whether the structures control the transport of waxes to the surface has yet to be elucidated. The overarching aim of this task is to synthesize polymer-based layered composite structures that mimic the structure of plant cuticles.

Task 4: Leaf-cuticle inspired membranes

ESR: Aristotelis Kamtsikakis, PI: Prof. Christoph Weder

Membranes with specific transport properties are important for a plethora of applications that range from breathable garments to water purification, and the proposed project seeks to create polymer-based membranes that mimic the architecture and transport function of cuticular coatings.

Task 5: Hairy Surfaces – From plants to novel technical materials

ESR: Ha-Neul Chae, PI: Prof. Jürgen Rühe

Hairy surfaces exhibit very unusual wetting properties as they represent stable, rough surfaces which have a roughness scale much smaller than that of the contacting water drop. Inspired by hairy plant surfaces (e.g. Achimilla vulgaris) we will explore the possibilities for the generation of hairy surfaces by generating polymer micro- and nanostructures with extreme aspect ratios.

Task 6: Wrinkled cellulose surfaces for structural colours

ESR: Gea van de Kerkhof, PI: Prof. Silvia Vignolini

Natural diffraction gratings on coloured plant petals do not possess a perfect long range order; and the disorder in such structures needs to be considered when we study their optical properties. At the same time, it is easier to produce polymer films with structural colour if their structure does not have to be perfectly ordered. Taking inspiration from the disorder induced-colour response of natural gratings we aim to design and fabricate structurally coloured surfaces.

Task 7: Edible structurally coloured surfaces

ESR: Benjamin Droguet, PI: Prof. Silvia Vignolini

The food industry has long relied on the use of complex synthetic dyes to produce colours and effects (e.g. hues, brightness, shine). Inspired by structural colour in many flowers we aim to design and fabricate structurally coloured surfaces using edible materials via nano-imprint lithography.

Task 8: Insect repellent wrinkly colloids

ESR: Johannes Bergmann, PI: Prof. Ullrich Steiner

Very recently surface wrinkle patterns were shown to be highly effective for insect repellence. The overarching goal of this task is therefore to mimic insect repellence occurring in nature, and develop a non-toxic, sustainable and natural insect repelling agent that is easy to deploy.

Task 9: Tuning hierarchical topographical and chemical surface patterns

ESR: Konstantinos Roumpos, PI: Prof. Günter Reiter

Plant surfaces are characterized by a hierarchy of topographical and chemical patterns. Such pattern formation can be mimicked in polymer thin films. This task aims to generate and study the evolution of hierarchical topographical patterns in thin polymer films governed by film instabilities and the release of elastic energy stored in these films.