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The Texas horned lizard as model for robust capillary structures for passive directional transport of cooling lubricants

: Comanns, Philipp; Winands, Kai; Pothen, Mario; Bott, Raya A.; Wagner, Hermann; Baumgartner, Werner


Martín-Palma, Raúl J. ; Society of Photo-Optical Instrumentation Engineers -SPIE-, Bellingham/Wash.:
Bioinspiration, Biomimetics, and Bioreplication 2016 : 21-22 March 2016, Las Vegas, Nevada, United States
Bellingham, WA: SPIE, 2016 (Proceedings of SPIE 9797)
ISBN: 978-1-5106-0038-6
Paper 979711, 11 pp.
Conference "Bioinspiration, Biomimetics, and Bioreplication" <2016, Las Vegas/Nev.>
Conference Paper
Fraunhofer IPT ()
biomimetic; moisture harvesting; fluid transport; directional capillary transport; surface structure; lubrication; laser surface structuring; sky-writing; burn-in effect

Moisture-harvesting lizards, such as the Texas horned lizard Phrynosoma cornutum, have remarkable adaptations for inhabiting arid regions. Special skin structures, in particular capillary channels in between imbricate overlapping scales, enable the lizard to collect water by capillarity and to transport it to the snout for ingestion. This fluid transport is passive and directional towards the lizard's snout. The directionality is based on geometric principles, namely on a periodic pattern of interconnected half-open capillary channels that narrow and widen. Following a biomimetic approach, these principles were transferred to technical prototype design and manufacturing. Capillary structures, 50 μm to 300 μm wide and approx. 70 μm deep, were realized by use of a pulsed picosecond laser in hot working tool steel, hardened to 52 HRC. In order to achieve highest functionality, strategies were developed to minimize potential structural inaccuracies, which can occur at the bottom of the capillary structures caused by the laser process. Such inaccuracies are in the range of 10 μm to 15 μm and form sub-capillary structures with greater capillary forces than the main channels. Hence, an Acceleration Compensation Algorithm was developed for the laser process to minimize or even avoid these inaccuracies. The capillary design was also identified to have substantial influence; by a hexagonal capillary network of non-parallel capillaries potential influences of sub-capillaries on the functionality were reduced to realize a robust passive directional capillary transport. Such smart surface structures can lead to improvements of technical systems by decreasing energy consumption and increasing the resource efficiency.