Grabbing water: the elastocapillary pipette

Floating flowers inspired the elastocapillary pipette.

Grabbing water with an edible flower.

We introduce a novel technique for grabbing water with a flexible solid. This new passive pipetting mechanism was inspired by floating flowers and relies purely on the coupling of the elasticity of thin plates and the hydrodynamic forces at the liquid interface. Developing a theoretical model has enabled us to design petal-shaped objects with maximum grabbing capacity.

See: Reis, Hure, Jung, Bush & Clanet (2010)

The folding of flowers represents an example of capillary origami in nature, a few examples of which are discussed in Reis, Jung, James, Clanet and Bush (2009) .


The elastocapillary pipette is being adapted for use in the culinary arts, as a means of serving small volumes of liqueurs with flowers composed of edible gels (right).

PRESS:  Highlights in Chemical Technology