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Bio-Inspired Design

Natural materials with remarkable functional properties often arise from defined structural motifs at the nano- and microscale. We seek to mimic such functionality by controlling the internal structure of materials using our self-assembly processes. We are currently focusing on the design of self-cleaning, repellent surface coatings and structural color.

Structural Colouration

The natural world is a colorful environment. Stunning displays of coloration have evolved throughout nature to optimize camouflage, warning, and communication. These stunning visual effects and remarkable dynamic properties are often caused by an intricate structural design at the nano- and microscale. We use colloidal self-assembly techniques to create materials and surfaces with defined nanostructural and hierarchical architectures which mimic the optical properties found in nature. We also utilize the optical response of grain crystallization to study the dynamic process of self-assembly in photonic balls. Light microscopes are usually not capable of “seeing” small nano particles, but their collective response to light gives live information about the state and orientation of crystals by their color appearance.

Key Related Publications

Junwei Wang, Umair Sultan, Eric S. A. Goerlitzer, Chrameh Fru Mbah, Michael Engel, Nicolas Vogel
Structural Color of Colloidal Clusters as a Tool to Investigate Structure and Dynamics
Adv. Funct. Mater. 2019, 1907730

J. Wang. C. F. Mbah, T. Przybilla, B. A. Zubiri, E. Spiecker, M. Engel, and N. Vogel
Magic Colloidal Clusters as Minimum Free Energy Structures
Nature Comm. 2018, 9, 5259

E. S. A. Goerlitzer, R. N. Klupp Taylor, and N. Vogel
Bioinspired photonic pigments based on colloidal self-assembly
Advanced Materials201830, 1706654

G. T. England, C. Russell, E. Shirman, T. Kay, N. Vogel, and J. Aizenberg
The optical Janus effect: Asymmetric structural color reflection materials
Advanced Materials 2017, 29, 1606876

N. Vogel, S. Utech, G. T. England, T. Shirman, K. R. Phillips, N. Koay, I. B. Burgess, M. Kolle, D. A. Weitz and J. Aizenberg
Color from hierarchy: Diverse optical properties of micron-sized spherical colloidal assemblies
Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, USA 2015, 112, 10845

Self-Cleaning Surfaces

The contamination of surfaces is detrimental in a wide range of applications, and can compromise for example the field of vision in cameras or lenses, lead to accumulation of ice on infrastructure, decrease the performance of solar cells, increase drag or allow pathogens to form biofilms. Fortunately, nature has evolved various powerful stratregies for the design of self-cleaning surfaces, which we aim to understand, mimick and translate into technologically useful applications.  One of the key strategies in the Vogel lab is the design of lubricant-infused surfaces inspired by the pitcher plant.  The peristome of the pitcher plant entraps water by a combination of matching surface chemistry and topography, forming a homogeneous liquid layer at its surface. The fluid nature of this interface prevents pinning of a second, contaminated liquid and provides a highly repellent, self-cleaning surface able to repel a wide range of contaminating liquids and complex fluids.

Key Related Publications

Y. Galvan, K. R. Phillips, M. Haumann, P. Wasserscheid, R. Zarraga and N. Vogel
Ionic liquid-infused nanostructures as repellent surfaces
Langmuir 2018, 34 (23), 6894-6902

S. Amini, S. Kolle, L. Petrone, O. Ahanotu, S. Sunny, C. N. Sunanto, S. Hoon, L. Cohen, J.C. Weaver, J. Aizenberg, N. Vogel, and A. Miserez
Preventing mussel adshesion using lubricant-infused materials
Science 2017, 357, 668

S. Sunny, G. Cheng, D. Daniel, P. Lo, S. Ochoa, C. Howell, N. Vogel, A. Majid and J. Aizenberg
Transparent Antifouling Material for Improved Operative Field Visibility in Endoscopy
Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, USA 2016, 113, 11676

N. Vogel, R. Belisle, T.S. Wong, B. Hatton and Joanna Aizenberg
Transparency and damage tolerance of patternable omniphobic lubricated surfaces based on inverse colloidal monolayers
Nature Communications 2013, 4, 2176