Taking a leaf from nature's book, a team from IIT Mandi has developed a material that can harvest water from fog. Researchers worldwide are working towards developing techniques that can harvest water from unexpected sources, such as fog and mist, to meet the burgeoning demand for water. "There are several plants in arid and semi-arid regions of the world whose leaves can harvest water from dew and fog. If they can do it, so can we," said Venkata Krishnan, an associate professor at Indian Institute of Technology (IIT) Mandi, Himachal Pradesh. For the study published in the journal ACS Sustainable Chemistry and Engineering, researchers studied the intricate structures on the leaves of an ornamental plant called the Dragon's lily head (Gladiolus dalenii). The surface patterns on the leaf in micrometre and nanometre scales were evaluated in relation to the water harvesting properties, and the patterns were replicated onto a polymer material. The team found a 230 per cent enhancement on the fog harvesting performance of the patterned samples, compared to an unpatterned control sample. Solutions to provide drinking water to India's growing population must not only span policy and behavioural changes but also incorporate scientific and technological innovations inspired by nature, researchers said.