Australian researchers have developed a remarkable spray-on material, a layer of nanoparticles, with the ability to repel water.
The protective coating could eventually be used to waterproof mobile phones, prevent ice from forming on planes or protect boat hulls from corrosion.
“The surface is a layer of nanoparticles, which water slides off as if it’s on a hot barbecue,” says William Wong, a PhD student from the Nanotechnology Research Laboratory at the ANU.
The team created a more robust coating than previous materials by combining two plastics, one tough and one flexible.
“It’s like two interwoven fishing nets, made of different materials,” says Wong.
Watch the effect:
The water-repellent or superhydrophobic coating is also transparent and extremely resistant to ultraviolet radiation.
Antonio Tricoli, the lead researcher and head of the Nanotechnology Research Laboratory, says the material could change how we interact with liquids.
“It will keep skyscraper windows clean and prevent the mirror in the bathroom from fogging up,” says associate professor Tricoli.
“The key innovation is that this transparent coating is able to stabilise very fragile nanomaterials resulting in ultra-durable nanotextures with numerous real-world applications.”
The team developed two ways of creating the material, both of which are cheaper and easier than current manufacturing.
One method uses a flame to generate the nanoparticle constituents of the material. For lower temperature applications, the team dissolved the two components in a sprayable form.
The research is published in the journal Applied Materials and Interfaces.