Liquid uni-directional transport on solid surface without energy input would advance a variety of applications, such as in bio-fluidic devices, self-lubrication, and high-resolution printing. Inspired by the liquid uni-directional transportation on the peristome surface of Nepenthes?alata, here, we fabricated a peristome-mimicking surface through high-resolution stereo-lithography and demonstrated the detailed uni-directional transportation mechanism from a micro-scaled view visualized through X-ray microscopy. Significantly, an overflow-controlled liquid uni-directional transportation mechanism is proposed and demonstrated. Unlike the canonical predictions for completely wetting liquids spreading symmetrically on a high-energy surface, liquids with varied surface tensions and viscosities can spontaneously propagate in a single preferred direction and pin in all others. The fundamental understanding gained from this robust system enabled us to tailor advanced micro-computerized tomography scanning and stereo-lithography fabrication to mimic natural creatures and construct a wide variety of fluidic machines out of traditional materials.
Angewandte Chemie International Edition, 2016