Venus Flytrap's Leaf Snapping Mechanism Could Inspire Better Coatings and Adhesives
French physicists from the National Center for Scientific Research and Aix-Marseille University are studying the hydrodynamic leaf snapping mechanism of the Venus flytrap as a potential inspiration for enhancement of products such as coatings and adhesives that can release on command. The research builds on Harvard University scientists' discovery that the Venus flytrap leaf's curvature changes while closing because of a snap-buckling instability in the leaf structure related to the leaves' shell-like geometry. "The extremely high pressure inside the Venus fly trap cells prompted us to suspect that changes with a cell's pressure regime could be a key component driving this rapid leaf movement," says researcher Mathieu Colombani. The team targets and measures individual cells through use of a microfluidic pressure probe, and the procedure requires the plant's immobilization with dental silicone paste during the probe's insertion. Pressure measurements are collected before and after leaf closure, and the researchers also measure cell wall elasticity by injecting or removing a known amount of liquid and recording the cellular responses. "By measuring osmotic pressure and elasticity of leaf cells we hope to come closer to explaining the snapping mechanism," Colombani says.
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