Scientists create completely hydrophobic material with lasers and metal

21 Jan 2015

Scientists from the University of Rochester have developed a metal lasering process that makes it completely hydrophobic – repellent of water – indefinitely.

Until now, hydrophobic metal has been treated using a variety of different chemicals which over time, tend to wear off and need to be re-applied, as is most commonly seen on consumer non-stick frying pans.

With this new lasering process however, the researchers have been able to laser an entirely new nanostructure on to the metal which effectively gives it a force-field against almost all liquids.

Publishing their findings in the Journal of Applied Physics, the team also recorded a video to demonstrate their findings showing water droplets literally bounce off the metal as if made from rubber, thanks to the addition of 30pc more kinetic energy produced when reacting with the metal.

In terms of what uses this material could have, the possibilities are endless given the right circumstances.

For example, the team say that it could provide humanitarian assistance by producing water collection tanks that would have a 100pc retention rate in areas where water is scarce.

It could also be used on a variety of household items – including non-stick pans – as well as on vehicles such as planes or cars to eliminate water damage which can lead to fatigue and rust over time.

By its definition, and clarified by the researchers in their conclusion, this also makes it an indefinite self-cleaning surface.

Colm Gorey was a senior journalist with Silicon Republic