The secret hides in the nanoscale patterns on flowers’ petals, which reflect light in a way that creates a ‘blue halo’ and thus attracts the bees and encourages pollination, Dr Thompson explained.
He also talked about the ability of flowers to protect themselves from water through the wax coating of their petals, known as ‘hydrophobicity’ and the ‘lotus effect’, which allows some plants to self-clean when water lands on their surface.
He also reminded that the technologies of some plants have been long known and used by humans, such as the microfibrils which form natural polymers, one of which is cellulose, used to make paper and cotton.
“Perhaps the most astonishing plant nanostructures are the light-harvesting systems that capture light energy for photosynthesis and transfer it to the sites where it can be used. Plants are able to move this energy with an incredible 90% efficiency.”
Dr Thompson concluded the article by noting: “When it comes to developing new nanotechnology, it’s worth remembering that plants may have got there first.”
The piece attracted a lot of media interest and was republished by The Independent and the print version of the i newspaper.