New Amazing Metal Is So Hydrophobic It Makes Water Bounce Like Magic

New amazing metal is so hydrophobic it makes water bounce like magic

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.

New amazing metal is so hydrophobic it makes water bounce like magic

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.

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    from uses of blah, blah, blah... birth control... blah, blah, blah... ideal murder scene... blah, blah, blah...

    If it was used to make a frying pan you'd probably have trouble frying an egg too.
    But it would make a great, albeit uncomfortable, raincoat.

      I'm just imagining a bunch of people in a crowd all with raincoats made of this, with all the water bouncing madly between them until it hits someone's face :p

    How goddamned amazing is materials engineering this decade?! Nanotubes, graphene, quantum bit storage, sonic cloaking, visible cloaking, tractor beams, the em drive... And now the coolest liquid interaction since someone poured cornstarch onto a sub woofer!

      Boat hulls. Americas cup anyone?

        A winged trimaran which CAN'T touch the water. Would be fast. Not sure if it counts as a boat though...

    If they could laser etch glass like that I'd never need to clean my shower doors ever again.

      Although the nano structure might start to get clogged with oils over time.

      I wonder if this material is based on structures found in nature, I seem to remember some research into hydrophobic butterfly wings.

      Close. I was thinking tiles in the shower. Mold only grows when it's damp. A no clean shower but yes, what about the door ? Hmmmmmm

    We'll never need to wash our cars again!

      I haven't since 2013 and I don't have a any of that coating my car :D

      What would the women on my corvette calendar do for work?!

      Oh... Right.

    Please make a toilet from it.

      hmm, not sure that would be a good experience. Might be a little TOO bouncy

    I dunno something seems funny with it. Why when the big bit of water hits it, does the water stay in one large drop? I would expect it to be a bit more like rain hitting a windshield. IE the big drop should break into smaller drops which then roll off the material.

    Bit suss that it's one large drop the whole time. Almost like it's encased in its own hydrophobic coating. Perhaps the water has been "treated" for this demonstration?

    Any physicists care to comment?

      The structural integrity would be lost as it moves away since the parts further to the edge would have a larger combined outward push than the structural viscosity holding it together. I think they would break into random drops. I guess it also depends on which direction gravity is in relation to the impact.

      But for sure, all the random forces and positions of the air and the incoming drop would likely cause it to split into two droplets, the randomness being the orientation of the split and the ratio of the division.

      Observing water in zero-g might help us get a better picture. But I am certain they are using regular (as regular as it gets) water.

      Last edited 21/01/15 4:41 pm

      Surface tension. As it pancakes, the tension to mass rises, so it springs back into a blob. The big difference between this and your windscreen is that utter lack of friction between the drop and the surface.

      Without friction, the only force acting on the water is gravity and the resultant normal force, the outward spread is perfectly balanced by the attractive force of the water.

      It's like trying to run on ice, without something to push against you won't get anywhere. So when the water hits, the different parts of it can't get away from each other.

      Last edited 21/01/15 5:40 pm

    Very interesting, but I wonder about two shortcomings. The laser etched surface cannot be harder than the parent metal, thus will not be resistant to scratches or burnishing. Every scratch or rubbing will degrade the hydrophobic properties. How does it react to oils? Anything filling the etchings will nullify their effects on water.

    Scotchgard - est.1952, buy a can off the shelf for under $20.

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