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Antiadhesive Bionic Combs for Handling of Nanofibers

Periodic Reporting for period 1 - BioCombs4Nanofibers (Antiadhesive Bionic Combs for Handling of Nanofibers)

Reporting period: 2019-10-01 to 2020-09-30

Nanofibers are of great technical interest due to their superior surface-to-used-material-ratio for many applications, e.g. for respiratory face masks as those used in the Covid-19 crisis. However, technical nanofiber processing is often inhibited by their attraction to any surface by van der Waals forces.

The overall objective of the BioCombs4Nanofibers project is to enable that future tools for nanofiber handling are antiadhesive towards nanofibers which will facilitate considerably the processing of nanofibers and widen their application spectrum. Similar nanostructures can hinder the adhesion of nanofibrous protrusions of cells or microorganisms, which may enable cell-repellent or antiseptic areas on medical devices and implants.
There is a biological example to show how to tackle this problem: cribellate spiders bear a specialized comb, the calamistrum, to handle and process nanofibers, which are assembled to their capture threads.

In our recent publication (A.-C. Joel et al., ACS Applied Nano Materials 3, 3395 (2020)), we were able to prove that these fibers do not stick to the calamistrum because of a special fingerprint-like nanostructure on the comb. This structure prevents the nanofibers from smoothly adapting to the surface of the comb, thus minimizing contact and reducing the adhesive van der Waals forces between the nanofibers and surface. This leads to the spiders’ ability of nonsticky processing of nanofibers for their capture threads. The successful transfer of these structures to a technical surface proved that this biological model can be adapted to optimize future tools in technical areas in which antiadhesive handling of nanofibrous materials is required.
Our vision is to adapt and convert the biological nanostructures into future tools and devices with controlled antiadhesive and antimicrobiotic properties, by means of laser-induced nanostructures.