Pond Skaters’ Feet Inspire Buoyant New Material
The feet of pond skaters have helped create a novel super-buoyant material. Finnish scientists have drawn on the structure of the insect’s foot to exploit its ability to let the creature skim across a pond’s surface.
The buoyancy of the material, comprised of substances in which the liquid has been replaced with a gas but the structural components are left in place, has been boosted by making it out of plant cellulose – a natural polymer that, in some ways, resembles plastic. The properties that make it float could help it act like a powerful sponge to aid oil spill clean-ups, say its creators.