Counterintuitive ballistic and directional liquid transport on a flexible droplet rectifier

Lei Wang, Jing Li, Bo Zhang, Shile Feng, Mei Zhang, Dong Wu, Yang Lu, Ji Jung Kai, Jing Liu, Zuankai Wang, Lei Jiang

Research output: Journal article publicationJournal articleAcademic researchpeer-review

21 Citations (Scopus)


Achieving the directional and long-range droplet transport on solid surfaces is widely preferred for many practical applications but has proven to be challenging. Particularly, directionality and transport distance of droplets on hydrophobic surfaces are mutually exclusive. Here, we report that drain fly, a ubiquitous insect maintaining nonwetting property even in very high humidity, develops a unique ballistic droplet transport mechanism to meet these demanding challenges. The drain fly serves as a flexible rectifier to allow for a directional and long-range propagation as well as self-removal of a droplet, thus suppressing unwanted liquid flooding. Further investigation reveals that this phenomenon is owing to the synergistic conjunction of multiscale roughness, structural periodicity, and flexibility, which rectifies the random and localized droplet nucleation (nanoscale and microscale) into a directed and global migration (millimeter-scale). The mechanism we have identified opens up a new approach toward the design of artificial rectifiers for broad applications.

Original languageEnglish
Article number6472313
Publication statusPublished - 19 Aug 2020
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General


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