Geometry for low-inertia aerosol capture: Lessons from fog-basking beetles

Aida Shahrokhian, Fan Kiat Chan, Jiansheng Feng, Mattia Gazzola, Hunter King

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Water in the form of windborne fog droplets supports life in many coastal arid regions, where natural selection has driven nontrivial physical adaptation toward its separation and collection. For two species of Namib desert beetle whose body geometry makes for a poor filter, subtle modifications in shape and texture have been previously associated with improved performance by facilitating water drainage from its collecting surface. However, little is known about the relevance of these modifications to the flow physics that underlies droplets’ impaction in the first place. We find, through coupled experiments and simulations, that such alterations can produce large relative gains in water collection by encouraging droplets to “slip” toward targets at the millimetric scale, and by disrupting boundary and lubrication layer effects at the microscopic scale. Our results offer a lesson in biological fog collection and design principles for controlling particle separation beyond the specific case of fog-basking beetles.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numberpgae077
JournalPNAS Nexus
Issue number2
StatePublished - Feb 1 2024


  • atmospheric water harvesting
  • bioinspired engineering
  • fluid dynamics

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General


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