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LiNaBioFluid Report Summary

Project ID: 665337
Funded under: H2020-EU.1.2.1.

Periodic Reporting for period 1 - LiNaBioFluid (Laser-induced Nanostructures as Biomimetic Model of Fluid Transport in the Integument of Animals)

Reporting period: 2015-07-01 to 2016-06-30

Summary of the context and overall objectives of the project

LiNaBioFluid, “Laser-induced Nanostructures as Biomimetic Model of Fluid Transport in the Integument of Animals”, is a Research and Innovation Action funded by the European Community’s Horizon 2020 - FET Open Programme (grant agreement no: 665337), which supports early-stage research on any idea for a new technology. It brings together 7 partners from 4 different countries. The project consortium is very interdisciplinary combining renowned experts from the fields of zoology, physics, mechatronics, life sciences, materials sciences, laser-matter interaction, production technology, tribology, and biomimetics. The joint project consortium forms an excellent base for fundamental and applied research in the field of biomimetic surfaces.

LiNaBioFluid aims on laser-fabrication of biomimetic surfaces with -exceptional wetting properties, which are inspired by the integument of animals. The integument of an animal body has various functions, which are often achieved by specific micro- and/or nano- hierarchical structures. Advanced laser-processing strategies based on self-organization are employed, to mimic the specific topography and the excellent wetting properties of the integument of bark bugs and moisture harvesting lizards resulting from adaptations to their environment. The outcome of this innovative biomimetic exploitation of wetting effects is expected to lead to radically new technological approach of laser-generated surface textures on a micro- and nanometer scale. Especially from a reduction in friction and wear of optimized structures in lubricants, leveraging of new results and leading to higher efficiency by reducing energy consumption can be expected.

The project LiNaBioFluid is divided into 5 work packages (WPs). WP1 takes care of project management. WP2 concentrates on the characterization and structuring of soft organic materials as the scales from lizard exuviae, the cuticles of bark bugs and their replication. WP3 focuses on self-organized laser-induced structure formation on hard inorganic materials. WP4 aims at fabricating fast fluid transport over large areas for technological applications. The activities for dissemination and exploitation of project results are handled in WP5.

In the project LiNaBioFluid, five hypotheses have been identified to explain the unique properties of fluid transport on the integument of flat bark bugs and moisture harvesting desert lizards:

Hypothesis 1: The unique wetting properties of the integument of bark bugs have to be attributed to the perfect interaction between capillary transport and super-hydrophilic spreading at the plate surfaces.
Hypothesis 2: The fast spreading on integument plates of bark bugs results from a combined effect of optimized microtopography and wettability of the surface.
Hypothesis 3: The super-wetting effect can be speeded-up by combination with accompanying capillaries with optimized structure geometry as in integumental capillaries of moisture harvesting lizards.
Hypothesis 4: Laser-processing allows mimicking the topography and wetting of the integument plates and scales of bark bugs and moisture harvesting lizards at any surface with optional inclusion of capillary channels.
Hypothesis 5: Our biomimetic approach will lead to nano/microstructured surfaces with strongly improved transport of lubricating fluids resulting in reduced friction and wear and lower energy consumption.

Based on these five hypotheses, the following specific objectives have been defined:

Objective 1: Directed fluid transport starting from capillaries and then expanding to plain areas covering several square centimeters within a few seconds.
Objective 2: Speed-up of fluid transport by optimized interaction between surface wetting and topography.
Objective 3: Speed-up of fluid-transport by optimized structure geometry and shape of individual micro- and nanostructures at the surface.
Objective 4: Self-organized laser-induced structure formation resembling the bark bug design on areas of several square centimeters with short processing times.
Objective 5: Laser-structured surface on hard inorganic material with bark bug design with fast transport of lubricating fluids resulting in a friction coefficient reduced by more than 90% compared to that of a plain surface of the same material.

Work performed from the beginning of the project to the end of the period covered by the report and main results achieved so far

"Within, the first year of the project:
• The website of the project was designed (, developed and set into operation (D.5.1).
• Many bi- and tri-lateral, physical or teleconference communications were held to agree on project activities, discuss deliverables and milestones,
• In WP1, the first year report (D1.1 "Y1-report") was submitted, the consortium agreement was signed (D1.4 "Consortium Agreement") and the ethics documents were submitted (D1.7 “Ethics documents”),
• The first two deliverables of WP2 (D2.1 ”Publication of results on lizard skin” and D.2.2 uploading of “SEM images of nanostructures on the web site”) were performed successfully,
• Similarly, in WP3, first results of lizard-like morphologies were published on the project website (D3.2) and publication of results on laser-induced surface structures on inorganic materials (D3.3) were produced,
• In WP4, the first deliverable D4.4 (“Large-area laser-fabricated self-organised structures”) was achieved successfully,
• In WP5, the consortium delivered the interim Data Management plan (D5.9 Data Management plan – interim report), the Plan for Use and Dissemination of Knowledge (D5.3 Plan for Use and Dissemination of Knowledge (interim)) and the Exploitation Plan (D5.5 Exploitation Plan (interim))."

Progress beyond the state of the art and expected potential impact (including the socio-economic impact and the wider societal implications of the project so far)

Progress beyond the state of the art: The novelty of the project is related to the use of the integument of bark bugs to design biomimetic surfaces. While most of previous research activities in the field of biomimetic fluidics focused on plants and reptile surfaces, there is a very limited knowledge on bark bugs in general, which possess excellent mimicry. The fluid transport on the cuticle of (some) bark bugs includes the transport of the fluid out of the capillary followed by the spreading of the fluid on an extended area with microstructures. This special kind of fluid transport is assumed to be caused by the specific microstructures and/or wettability of the bark bug cuticle. The fluid transport in capillaries combined with super-wetting on large areas has application potential in the field of fluidics and microfluidics. However, it is not feasible to mimic the surface structure of the bark bug cuticle or the scale of a moisture harvesting lizard on a larger surface of several square centimeters by a scribing technique (e.g. electron beam lithography) due the long processing times required. Therefore, we employ the self-organized structures occurring on laser irradiated surfaces for structuring of surfaces on technically relevant hard materials, which show many similarities to those found in the animal integuments.

Impact: The radically new line of technology is the use of biomimetic designs, i.e. bug and lizard ones, for controlled fluid transport. The proof-of-principle will be friction reduction of a surface with self-organized laser-generated nano/microstructures and the new scientific underpinning the understanding of the role of surface topography and wettability for the fluid transport out of a capillary onto a microstructured surface where the fluid spreads.
A main target of the project remains the management of wear and friction, which means saving of resources and reduction of CO2 emission. This is a very important field as estimated 5% of the gross national budget is lost every year due to wear and abrasion in industrialized countries. In even higher relative dimension are the effects with regard to energy consumption and CO2 emission. Additionally to reduction of energy consumption and CO2 emission, the project’s success would be directly correlated with further societal challenges the European Union is straggling with as health/demographic change issues. Patients in hospitals or at home could benefit from wound dressings where the potentially infectious body fluids flow controlled in a direction away from the wound.

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