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Home page > Nature & Technology > The Constantly Self-cleaning Lotus


The lotus plant (a white water lily) grows in the dirty, muddy bottom of lakes and ponds, yet despite this, its leaves are always clean. That is because whenever the smallest particle of dust lands on the plant, it immediately waves the leaf, directing the dust particles to one particular spot. Raindrops falling on the leaves are sent to that same place, to thus wash the dirt away.

A lotus leaf with water on it

This property of the lotus led researchers to design a new house paint. Researchers began working on how to develop paints that wash clean in the rain, in much the same way as lotus leaves do. As a result of this investigation, a German company called ISPO produced a house paint brand-named Lotusan. On the market in Europe and Asia, the product even came with a guarantee that it would stay clean for five years without detergents or sandblasting.
Of necessity, many living things possess natural features that protect their external surfaces. There is no doubt, however, that neither the lotus’s external structure nor insects’ chitin layer came about by themselves. These living things are unaware of the superior properties they posIbsess. It is God Who creates them, together with all their features.
During his microscopic research, Dr. Wilhelm Barthlott at the University of Bonn realized that leaves that required the least cleaning were those with the roughest surfaces. On the surface of the lotus leaf, the very cleanest of these, Dr. Barthlott found tiny points, like a bed of nails. When a Speck of dust or dirt falls onto the leaf, it teeters precariously on these points. When a droplet of water rolls across these tiny points, it picks up the speck, which is only poorly attached, and carries it away. In other words, the lotus has a self-cleaning leaf. This feature has inspired researchers to produce a house paint called LOTUSAN, guaranteed to stay clean for five years.


1. Jim Robbins, “Engineers Ask Nature for Design Advice,” New York Times, December 11, 2001.

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