Water: a tale of two surfaces

McHale, G., 2008. Water: a tale of two surfaces.


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"The borders between great empires are often populated by the most interesting ethnic groups. Similarly, the interfaces between two forms of bulk matter are responsible for some of the most unexpected actions" - Pierre Gilles de Gennes (Nobel Laureate in Physics, 1991) Water is all around us. On a wet day we need coats to keep us dry, windscreen wipers so we can see and reservoirs to collect water to drink. There are few things more essential for life. Nature controls water in a myriad of ways. The Lotus leaf cleanses itself of dust when it rains, a beetle in the desert collects drinking water from an early morning fog, some spiders walk on water and others breathe underwater. We understand so little of how to mimic the adaptations to water that Nature has evolved, but if we did, we could use this natural resource so much better. In this tale of two surfaces, the solid and the liquid, I will begin in the garden with its soil, plants, ponds and insects. I will touch upon frying pans, clothes and watches. As the journey progresses into the laboratory, we will begin to understand how the interactions at the interface between water and a solid are vital to so many processes. At journey's end, we will glimpse a future prospect of such variety, from better clothes to miniature bio-chemical factories on the size of a credit card, all made possible by a simple understanding of water.

Item Type: Other
Publication Title: Professorial Lecture, Nottingham Trent University, Nottingham, 10 November 2008
Creators: McHale, G.
Date: 2008
Rights: Copyright Nottingham Trent University
Divisions: Schools > School of Science and Technology
Record created by: EPrints Services
Date Added: 09 Oct 2015 10:31
Last Modified: 19 Oct 2015 14:33
URI: https://irep.ntu.ac.uk/id/eprint/14263

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