Nature-inspired surface topography: design and function

  • XianTong Yan
  • YuanKai Jin
  • XueMei ChenEmail author
  • Chao Zhang
  • ChongLei Hao
  • ZuanKai WangEmail author
Invited Review


Learning from nature has traditionally and continuously provided important insights to drive a paradigm shift in technology. In particular, recent studies show that many biological organisms exhibit spectacular surface topography such as shape, size, spatial organization, periodicity, interconnectivity, and hierarchy to endow them with the capability to adapt dynamically and responsively to a wide range of environments. More excitingly, in a broader perspective, these normally neglected topological features have the potential to fundamentally change the way of how engineering surface works, such as how fluid flows, how heat is transported, and how energy is generated, saved, and converted, to name a few. Thus, the design of nature-inspired surface topography for unique functions will spur new thinking and provide paradigm shift in the development of the new engineering surfaces. In this review, we first present a brief introduction to some insights extracted from nature. Then, we highlight recent progress in designing new surface topographies and demonstrate their applications in emerging areas including thermal-fluid transport, anti-icing, water harvesting, power generation, adhesive control, and soft robotics. Finally, we offer our perspectives on this emerging field, with the aim to stimulate new thinking on the development of next-generation of new materials and devices, and dramatically extend the boundaries of traditional engineering.


natural inspiration biomimetic surface topography surface engineering unique functions interfacial interaction mechanisms 


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Copyright information

© Science China Press and Springer-Verlag GmbH Germany, part of Springer Nature 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Mechanical EngineeringCity University of Hong KongHong KongChina
  2. 2.MIIT Key Laboratory of Thermal Control of Electronic Equipment, School of Energy and Power EngineeringNanjing University of Science and TechnologyNanjingChina

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