Water Repelling Goose Feathers

Water Repelling Goose Feathers

Lake living provides calming water views and a diverse array of water-based creatures, but it’s not without its challenges.  The Canadian goose is one.  The iridescent black and pewter waterfowl provides beauty from afar, but leaves an abundance of poop all over the yard.  Poop in the yard would not be a problem if you didn’t walk through it or have a pet that enjoyed munching and later throwing-up this green delicacy.  Over the years, I have tried many humane ways to deter these defecating visitors:  twine along the shoreline, motion sensing noisemakers, owl decoys, and food-grade aversion liquids sprayed on the grass.  All of these solutions have proven to have minimal long-term success.  Even my dog has become complacent with these visitors and doesn’t waste her energy chasing them.  Instead, you might catch me running through the yard, “wingspan” extended to prove my prowess.  So how are we inspired by the Canadian goose to offset their lack of bathroom courtesy?

The goose feather has been studied for its wettability properties, which is the amount a fluid that adheres to a surface.  Water droplets on goose feathers have a natural propensity to roll outward from a feather’s rachis, or shaft, along the interlocking barbs and off each vane [1].  Mimicking this goose feather topography, man-made nano-polymer-threads were created using an electrospinning process; a process using an electric charge on a liquid polymer to create a solvent-free thread.  These thread structures were studied for wettability [2] and can inspire new chemical-free water- and dirt-repellant fabric for shelters and clothing.  How does this concept inspire you?

Canadian Goose photo courtesy of www.kmaellis.com

1 R. J. Kennedy, Directional Water-shedding Properties of Feathers. Nature, 1970, 227, 736.

2 See Hui Wu, Rui Zhang, Yao Sun, Dandan Lin, Zhiqiang Sun, Wei Pan and Patrick Downs, Biomimetic nanofiber patterns with controlled wettability. Soft Matter, 2008, 4, 2429.