Scientists at the University of Rochester have created a metal that is so extremely hydrophobic that the water bounces on it as if it were repelled by a magic force field. Instead of using chemical coatings they used lasers to etch a nanostructure on the metal itself. It will not wear off, like current less effective methods.
The applications can be revolutionary: From the construction of aeroplane surfaces — which will avoid water freezing of the fuselage — to non-stick pans to phones to computers to TVs to cars to whatever you can imagine made of metal. They are also thinking of applying the technique to create 100-per cent efficient water recollection systems in underdeveloped countries and the creation of latrines in areas where water is not abundant enough to allow for effective cleaning.
But it gets even better: The lead scientist says that ‘the structures created by their laser on the metals are intrinsically part of the material surface’ so they will not disappear over time, like current chemical coatings do.
Their research paper says they made the metals using a “powerful and precise laser-patterning technique that creates an intricate pattern of micro- and nanoscale structures to give the metals their new properties.” According to Chunlei Guo, professor of optics at Rochester the effect is amazing:
The material is so strongly water-repellent, the water actually gets bounced off. Then it lands on the surface again, gets bounced off again, and then it will just roll off from the surface.
Here’s Guo in a explanatory video along with the co-writer of the study, Anatoliy Vorobyev, who is a professor at the University of Rochester’s Institute of Optics.