What's the Latest Development?
Researchers at the University of Michigan recently published a paper in the Journal of the American Chemical Society describing their work on a coating that repelled all but two of 100 liquids put on it, more than any other material in its class. According to co-author Anish Tuteja, the liquids, ranging from coffee and soy sauce to gasoline and sulfuric acid, "bounce[d] right off [the treated surface] without wetting it." The coating was created using electrospinning -- in which electricity produces solid particles from a liquid solution -- and so far has been applied to small pieces of screen and snips of fabric.
What's the Big Idea?
Due to its chemical makeup -- a combination of plastic particles and liquid-resistant nanoscale cubes created by the US Air Force -- and the fineness of the filament web it makes as it clings to a surface, the coating ends up consisting mostly of air pockets. The intermolecular forces that draw the liquid to the surface are drastically reduced, which means that it doesn't get a chance to soak in and spread. Possible uses for the coating include the creation of stain-resistant garments and hazardous material suits as well as highly-waterproof paints that reduce drag on ships.
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