Using laser-etching, scientists design intensely hydrophobic, self-cleaning material

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in science on (#2WSX)
Scientists have created a new water-hating material by laser-etching a microscopic pattern on a metal surface. The surface could be used for everything from preventing ice from developing on airplane wings to creating self-cleaning toilets. And unlike traditional chemical coatings, the new material will not wear off, the researchers say.

It's much more repellent than typical chemical coatings, like the Teflon in nonstick frying pans. Teflon-coated surfaces need to be tilted at nearly a 70-degree angle before a water droplet will slide off, whereas the new material only needs to be tilted at less than 5 degrees, the researchers reported in the Journal of Applied Physics. To create the new material, Guo and his colleagues used powerful, but very short, laser pulses to etch a platinum, titanium or brass surface. Currently, it takes an hour to etch a 1 inch by 1 inch (2.5 by 2.5 centimeters) piece of metal, so this process needs to be sped up.

Re: wear off? (Score: 2, Interesting)

by ploling@pipedot.org on 2015-02-07 00:15 (#2WY1)

It won't fall off: it is the metal material itself, and it won't stop working until there has been enough abrasion to the outer structure and that would normally take a long time. Vigorous knifing probably would damage it but not all that much, it might not even be noticeable, metal files, sandblasting, acids (if they manage to touch it), and severe oxidation (same disclaimer) would wipe it out completely and the only question is how fast.

I hope they make a few small RC boathulls of this material to test that. If that works it should reduce drag a lot and save a lot of energy/money. Next up would be submarines lol :D If it works it's like supercavitation without the supercavitating, without any gas/air.

I wonder if barnacles are able to stick to this? Unpainted of course, painting this stuff is out of the question and it might be tricky to get it in any color but black (the color it already has) using nanopattering since that would impact the nanopattering they're already doing for hydrophobicity.
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