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Nanoscale textures used for optimal hydrophobic surfaces

first_imgWhile it is exciting that we now live in a world where you can apply a superhydrophobic coating to most surfaces using a spray can, there are still those among us looking for the most efficient way to send liquids cascading away. The Department of Energy is one of those groups of people, and recently they have produced some really interesting research on the subject.For most people, keeping water off of something means using a particular kind of material. Currently, the research into making a surface highly water repellent has gone a little deeper than just the material used. The idea of coating a surface to make it hydrophobic is interesting, but if you could affect the texture of the surface itself during construction, then maybe you wouldn’t need a separate coating at all.Using some basic principles found in nature, the Department of Energy has created a superhydrophobic surface by adjusting the texture of that surface on a nano scale. Under an electron microscope you can see that the surface being tested in the video is a series of nanocones. These impossibly tiny spikes create the same effect that waterproofing sprays have had recently. In this demonstration, the texture stands 20nm tall, but it is possible that this same concept could be applied to greater effect at 10nm.Regarding this research, Brookhaven physicist Antonio Checco explained in the paper that this design mimics the self cleaning mechanism in lotus plants and insect exoskeletons by trapping air between the cones. This layer of air is what effectively pushes the water away, carrying dirt and dust from the surface away with it. It’s possible that this research could find its way into commercial applications like windshields and perhaps even camping materials someday, depending on how the surface behaves under various stressful environments like speed and barometric pressure.last_img

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