Certain arachnids exhibit complex coatings of their exoskeleton, consisting of globular structures with complex surface features. This, so-called, cerotegument is formed by a multi-component colloidal secretion that self-assembles and cures on the body surface, and leads to high water repellency. Previous ultrastructural studies revealed the involvement of different glandular cells that contribute different components to the secretion mixture, but the overall process of self-assembly into the complex regular structures observed remained highly unclear. Here we study this process from a theoretical point of view, starting from the so-called Tammes-problem. We show that slight changes of simple parameters lead to a variety of morphologies that are highly similar to the ones observed in the species specific cerotegument structures of whip-spiders. These results are not only important for our understanding of the formation of globular hierarchical structures in nature, but also for the fabrication of novel surface coatings by colloidal lithography.
- hierarchical structure
- surface coating