“Lotus effect”: science behind it

Wilhelm Barthlott, MYTHOLOGICAL CONNECTION -Shrimadbhagavatgita, Discovery of lotus effect Natural application of Lotus effect, APPLICATION - polymer, tiles, paints etc



Professor Dr. Wilhelm Barthlott

Have you ever seen rain drops rollimg down  from leaves and soothaned our soul. There is also science behind it called “lotus effect” discovered by the German botanist “Wilhelm Barthlott” after the discovery of electron microscope so that objects of 10^-9 m can be seen easily. This discovery was milestone in biophysics. Discovery of lotus effect is an example that refers to the property of self- cleaning of lotus leaves as a result of very high water repellence. Beside lotus this self cleaning property is also found in plant species belonging to the genera Colocasia, Alocasia, etc. 


Microscopic picture of lotus effect

Lotus leaves have minute globules on their surface that are covered with wax and repel water. Instead of wetting the surface, water moves in round drops and make it clean by capturing the dirt particles on it.


In ancient Sanskrit texts of India ‘Shrimadbhagavatgita’ , suggests the adoption of a lifestyle that follows the principle of unattachness towards the happiness and sorrow of life. In a way similar to the non-wetting properties of the lotus effect.

Namibia Desert Beetle

There is also a bettle found in desert ‘ Stenocara gracilipes’ commonly called Namiba Desert Beetle. It collects water from desert fog, based on lotus effect’s principle. The beetle collects water on it’s wings because it has waxy bumps on it. This collection of water is a natural application of it. This property is also found in butterfly and dragonfly for cleaning of wings. 


Lotus effect have many practical application in our life including :-

  • Lotus effect lessens the onslaught of fungal and other diseases on the plants as fungal spores can’t germinate over there.
  • Solar energy,  solar panels face the problem of deposit of dust leads to upto  40% in efficiency is observed. But if panels are paint based on louts effect can help to make maintenance less costly.
  • Recently in Germany , A tile called ‘Erlus lotus’ is developed which helps solar disintegration of organic dirt deposited over its surface . 
  • It is used to keep clean houses and their walls can be kept clean by using paints based on this effect.
  • It has it’s application in meat industry also. Slicing machine’s blade is made up of Teflon. Teflon is used as coating material. It makes easy maintenance of blade, prevent periodic replacement of blade and   maintain it’s sharpness  and resistant to corrosion. 
  • To compete with drinking water crises in all over the globe, few scientists develop a polymer which has both positively and negatively charged surface.It has thin wax film. film is made up of fluorinated silane and  impregnated with silica particles.  It makes water droplets to slide easily . This is quite effective in desets to collect water in foggy desert.


This Self cleaning lotus effect has very imense impact in our society. It’s Economical  importance is increasing day by day. It should be the part of our school science subject, so that each and every student atleast think something about it’s application. Many innovative ideas come across daily in a student. Not only industrial level it can have application in our daily life. 

also read: https://factstunnel.org/dietary-fibre-part-of-a-healthy-diet/

also read: https://www.technicaltextile.net/articles/acquiring-natures-inspiration-lotus-effect-on-textiles-5174


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