Wong Laboratory for Nature Inspired Engineering


Super Slippery Surfaces Inspired by Nepenthes Pitcher Plants


"How the slick strategy of pitcher plants inspire a new coating that repels almost everything?"

Examples from nature


Pitcher plants have developed an efficient insect-trapping strategy through the use of a highly slippery surface (Bohn & Federle, PNAS 2004, 101, 14138 – 14143). The surface repels the insect’s oily feet, indicating that similar strategy could be used for designing ultra-repellent surfaces.  At the heart of the plants’ excellent repellency lies on a thin protective liquid film locked in place by micro-textures.  Since a liquid surface is inherently smooth, self-healing, incompressible, and can be chosen for optical transparency, the novel repellent strategy of pitcher plants offers many outstanding features that cannot be matched by the state-of-the-art liquid repellent surfaces.

SLIPS: A bioinspired slippery surface that repels almost everything









Inspired by the Nepenthes pitcher plants, a synthetic version of the slippery surface was developed during my postdoctoral research at Harvard.  The material itself was coined as Slippery Liquid-Infused Porous Surfaces (SLIPS).  SLIPS consist of nano/microstructured substrates infused with a lubricating fluid, where the lubricant is locked in place by the substrate and forms a stable, defect-free, inert “slippery” interface.  This surface outperforms its natural counterparts and state-of-the-art synthetic surfaces in its capability to repel various simple and complex liquids (water, hydrocarbons, crude oil, and blood); maintain low contact angle hysteresis; restore liquid-repellency  after physical damage rapidly; resist ice adhesion; and function at high pressures.  With all of these properties (see videos below), SLIPS will find important applications in fluid handling and transportation, optical sensing, medicine, and as anti-icing, self-cleaning and anti-fouling surfaces operating in extreme environments.

Watch SLIPS in Action

Insect Repellency - Direct Mimicry of Nature!!

Oil Repellency

Blood Repellency

Ice Repellency

Easy-clean Surface for Biofilm

Self-cleaning Property

Self-healing Property

Further Readings and Videos:


1. EmTech Talk about SLIPS (3 min), MIT Media Lab, Cambridge, MA (Sept 23, 2014).


2. Tak-Sing Wong, Sung Hoon Kang, Sindy K. Y. Tang, Elizabeth J. Smythe, Benjamin D. Hatton, Alison Grinthal, and Joanna Aizenberg, “Bioinspired Self-Repairing Slippery Surfaces with Pressure-stable Omniphobicity”, Nature, vol. 477, pp. 443 – 447 (2011).


3. Alex Epstein, Tak-Sing Wong, Rebecca Belisa, Emily Marie Boggs, and Joanna Aizenberg, “Liquid-Infused Structured Surfaces with Exceptional Anti-Biofouling Performance”, Proceedings of National Academy of Sciences, USA, vol. 109, pp. 13182 - 13187 (2012).


4. Philseok Kim, Tak-Sing Wong, Jack Alvarenga, Wilmer Adorno, and Joanna Aizenberg, “Liquid-Infused Nanostructured Surfaces with Extreme Anti-Ice and Anti-Frost Performance”, ACS Nano, vol. 6, pp. 6569 - 6577 (2012).


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Copyright by Tak-Sing Wong 2013.  All rights reserved.

Department of Mechanical Engineering

Materials Research Institute

Huck Institutes of the Life Sciences

The Pennsylvania State University, University Park, PA 16802


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