The external epithelial surfaces of plants and animals are frequently carpeted with small micro- and nanostructures, which broadens their adaptive capabilities in challenging physical habitats. Hairs and other shaped protuberances manage with excessive water, light contaminants, predators or parasites in innovative ways. We are interested in transferring these intricate architectures onto biomedical devices and daily-life surfaces. Such a project requires a very rapid and accurate small-scale fabrication process not involving lithography. In this study, we describe a simple benchtop biotemplating method using shed gecko lizard skin that generates duplicates that closely replicate the small nanotipped hairs (spinules) that cover the original skin. Synthetic replication of the spinule arrays in popular biomaterials closely matched the natural spinules in length. More significantly, the shape, curvature and nanotips of the synthetic arrays are virtually identical to the natural ones. Despite some small differences, the synthetic gecko skin surface resisted wetting and bacterial contamination at the same level as natural shed skin templates. Such synthetic gecko skin surfaces are excellent platforms to test for bacterial control in clinical settings. We envision testing the biocidal properties of the well-matched templates for fungal spores and viral resistance in biomedicine as well as co/multi-cultures.
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