Inspired by the quick-shut action of the Venus flytrap, researchers have designed a material patterned with microscale hills that can rapidly flip to form valleys. Such materials could serve as fast-release adhesives, sensors in food packaging that detect spoilage, and quick-change lenses.
To capture its prey, the Venus flytrap takes advantage of a snap instability that resembles half a tennis ball flipping inside out. Uneven stresses in the outer and inner cells of the plant's leaf make it move quickly without muscles (SN: 1/29/05, p. 69).
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