Unusual Feathers Could Inspire New Absorbent Materials; Belly Feathers of Male Sandgrouse Optimized for Collection, Transport, and Delivery of Water

An extreme closeup of feathers from a bird with an uncanny ability to hold water while it flies could inspire the next generation of absorbent materials. With high-resolution microscopes and 3D technology, researchers at Johns Hopkins University and Massachusetts Institute of Technology captured an unprecedented view of feathers from the desert-dwelling sandgrouse, showcasing the singular architecture of their feathers and revealing for the first time how they can hold so much water. “It’s super fascinating to see how nature managed to create structures so perfectly efficient to take in and hold water,” said co-author Jochen Mueller, PhD, an Assistant Professor in Johns Hopkins’ Department of Civil and Systems Engineering, who specializes in smart materials and design. “From an engineering perspective, we think the findings could lead to new bio-inspired creations.” The work was published on April 12, 2023 in The Royal Society Interface. The open-access article is titled Structure and Mechanics of Water-Holding Feathers of Namaqua Sandgrouse (Pterocles namaqua).”
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