Research

Making Droplets Stick

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Lots of plants have evolved leaves that are superhydrophobic – that is, water repellent. For a plant, this makes a lot of sense. A superhydrophobic leaf will make water bounce and run off, draining down to where the plants roots can drink it up. But this same feature can be a frustration to farmers who spread pesticides by spraying plants. They need the pesticide to stick to the leaves if it’s to deter insects, and the superhydrophobicity of the leaves forces them to spray more pesticides in the hopes of getting some to stick. Researchers at MIT are looking to change this status quo with a few biodegradable polymer additives that can counter the leaves’ superhydrophobic tendencies and help droplets stick to the surface. This could reduce the amount of pesticides needed to protect crops. (Video credit: MIT)

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