SciCafe: Engineering Technologies Inspired by Nature main content.

SciCafe: Engineering Technologies Inspired by Nature

Part of SciCafe

Wednesday, November 7, 2018

Image of Nepenthes Pitcher Plant

Mechanical engineer Tak-Sing Wong draws inspiration from the natural world for his technological inventions. From the slippery rims of Nepenthes pitcher plants, Wong was inspired to create a material capable of repelling liquids and preventing bacteria from adhering. And he looked to the biological process of phagocytosis—when a cell engulfs and consumes another—to invent a self-healing surgical film to treat the surfaces of medical devices. Learn about the wide range of possible applications for these new materials.

This SciCafe took place in the past. Listen to the full talk on the Science@AMNH podcast, or watch the video version here:

About the Speaker

Headshot of Tak-Sing Wong
Tak-Sing Wong is an Assistant Professor of Mechanical Engineering and Biomedical Engineering, and Head of the Laboratory of Nature Inspired Engineering at The Pennsylvania State University. His research group develops biologically inspired materials with applications in health, energy, and water sustainability. His group’s research innovations range from the development of Nepenthes pitcher plant-inspired slippery surfaces that repel almost everything, to the discovery of camouflage function of leafhopper-produced brochosomes, to the creation of self-healing reverse filter inspired by the biological process of phagocytosis. He was named one of the world’s top 35 Innovators Under 35 by MIT Technology Review for his contributions in biologically inspired engineering.

Read More

  • Watch Tak-Sing Wong MIT EmTech talk about the bio-inspiration to "sticky" problems.
  • Learn more about SLIPS in this video from Science Nation
  • Read about these slick materials in this article from Science Magazine

Recent Publications

  1. Tak-Sing Wong, Sung Hoon Kang, Sindy K. Y. Tang, Elizabeth J. Smythe, Benjamin D. Hatton, Alison Grinthal, and Joanna Aizenberg, (2011). Bioinspired Self-Repairing Slippery Surfaces with Pressure-stable Omniphobicity. Nature, 477: 443 – 447.
  2. Shikuan Yang, Xianming Dai, Birgitt Boschitsch Stogin, and Tak-Sing Wong (2016). Ultrasensitive surface-enhanced Ramen Scattering Detection in Common Fluids. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, USA, 113: 268 – 273.
  3. Shikuan Yang, Nan Sun, Birgitt Boschitsch Stogin, Jing Wang, Yu Huang and Tak-Sing Wong (2017). Ultra-antireflective Synthetic Brochosomes. Nature Communications, 8: 1285.
  4. Xianming Dai, Nan Sun, Steven O. Nielsen, Birgitt Boschitsch Stogin, Jing Wang, Shikuan Yang, and Tak-Sing Wong (2018). Hydrophilic Directional Slippery Rough Surfaces for Water Harvesting. Science Advances, 4: eaaq0919.
  5. Birgitt Boschitsch Stogin, Luke Gockowski, Hannah Feldstein, Houston Claure, Jing Wang, and Tak-Sing Wong (2018). Free-standing liquid membranes as unusual particle separators. Science Advances, 4: 8: eaat3276.

Frequent Geek Cards

Get your card stamped at the information table when you attend SciCafe.

  • Three stamps—get a free drink
  • Five stamps—get a free Frequent Geek T-shirt.
  • All nine stamps— and receive get two tickets to a special exhibition of your choice.
  • Bring three friends who are new to SciCafe to become a "SciCafe Ambassador”—an honor that comes with a free drink!


Show your SciCafe spirit! Best picture posted on social media using #AMNHSciCafe will be selected at the end of the evening to receive geeky giveaways.

This program and related activities are generously supported by the Science Education Partnership Award (SEPA) program of the National Institutes of Health (NIH).