rsif20210676_si_005.mp4 (36.29 MB)
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Supplementary video S5 from The impact of raindrops on Salvinia molesta leaves: effects of trichomes and elasticity

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posted on 2021-12-02, 12:09 authored by Wilfried Konrad, Anita Roth-Nebelsick, Benjamin Kessel, Tatiana Miranda, Martin Ebner, Rena Schott, James Nebelsick
The floating leaves of the aquatic fern Salvinia molesta are covered by superhydrophobic hairs (=trichomes) which are shaped like egg-beaters. These trichomes cause high water repellency and stable unwettability if the leaf is immersed. Whereas S. molesta hairs are technically interesting, there remains also the question concerning their biological relevance. S. molesta has its origin in Brazil within a region exposed to intense rainfall which easily penetrates the trichome cover. In this study, drop impact on leaves of S. molesta were analysed. The largest portion of the kinetic energy of a rain drop is absorbed by elastic responses of the trichomes and the leaf. Although rain water is mostly repelled, it turned out that the trichomes hamper swift shedding of rain water and some residual water can remain below the ‘egg-beaters’. Drops rolling over the trichomes can, however, ‘suck up’ water trapped beneath the egg-beaters because the energetic state of a drop on top of the trichomes is—on account of the superhydrophobicity of the hairs—much more favourable. The trichomes may therefore be beneficial during intense rainfall, because they absorb some kinetic energy and keep the leaf base mostly free from water.