By coating two facing surfaces with this paint, condensed water trapped in air can be 'bounced' together into droplets, resulting in them falling into a collection vessel below. And because the system is passive, it doesn’t need power to collect the water.
Dr Zhang said: "About two-thirds of the world's population suffers from a serious water crisis, and about 10% of the world’s fresh water resources are stored in the air. Being able to extract this water from the air in areas affected by drought has long been an ambition of scientists around the world.
"The design of the hybrid coating was inspired by the structure of the desert beetle's back, but our coating will have better performance, meaning water vapor can condensate very quickly on the coating and can also leave the surface very fast, leaving the surface ready to collect more water."
The solution, which can be applied as a spray, could also result in new water proof clothing, fog-resistant car windows and extremely rapid water drainage.
But it was in fact the leaves of the lotus flower that first led the team to investigate what solutions nature had to produce ultra-repellent, or superamphiphobic, materials, in a bid to try and improve the efficiency of air-conditioning units.