Scientists Invent Floatiest Material On Earth

Bugs that skate on water can do it because their feet are "superhydrophobic." Chinese scientists applied a similar coating to a tiny copper mesh boat, and suddenly it could hold three times the weight.

It's actually crazy: The superhydrophobic coating—what the scientists are casually calling "the cooperative effect of hierarchical micro/nanostructures and a low-surface-energy wax coating"—creates a cushion of air around the boat (or the bug's leg), putting an invisible bubble between it and the water. The boat is literally floating on air, while the water tries to touch it but can't. What's creepy is that the coated boats sink immediately when immersed in organic liquids like ethanol and acetone.

Now that these scientists discovered ways to make super-buoyant objects, what can be done? They predict a new era of "novel superfloating and drag-reducing aquatic devices," by which they mean, either cybernetic death from the sea, or the biggest, sleekest, craziest yacht you'll ever only see pictures of because you won't even know people who know people who will be able to afford it. [American Chemical Society - Thanks Michael!]

Trending Stories Right Now