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Super-slippery SLIPS coating now transparent and more durable

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August 8, 2013

The researchers hope to start bettering the superglass coating for use on curved surfaces ...

The researchers hope to start bettering the superglass coating for use on curved surfaces and various plastics

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Joanna Aizenberg, Ph.D. and her team at the Wyss Institute for Biologically Inspired Engineering at Harvard University have improved upon the Slippery Liquid-Infused Porous Surfaces (SLIPS) technology they developed back in 2012. The ultra smooth surface, which the team claims is the slipperiest known synthetic surface, has now been made transparent and more durable, giving it the potential to make the issues glass has with sticky liquids, frost and ice formation, and bacterial biofilms a thing of the past.

Instead of lotus leaves, which have been the inspiration for numerous superhydrophobic surfaces, the SLIPS technology was bio-inspired by the carnivorous pitcher plant, which has incredibly slippery leaves that help it trap unsuspecting insects. By now making it transparent and longer-lasting, Aizenberg says they have extended SLIPS' potential to durable, scratch-resistant lenses for eyeglasses, self-cleaning windows, improved solar panels, and new medical diagnostic devices.

To create the new coating, the researchers placed particles of Styrofoam (polystyrene) on a flat glass surface, and poured liquid glass on them until the particles were half submerged. Once the liquid glass solidified, the particles were burned away, leaving what the team describes as a "network of craters that resembles a honeycomb." The researchers then covered the craters with the same lubricant coating used in SLIPS.

The researchers found that the flat, glass slides treated in this way were more rugged than flat surfaces simply treated with the SLIPS coating, but they remained equally slippery, repelling everything from wine, olive oil, ketchup and octane. They also repelled water, thereby preventing the build up of ice, giving it the potential to keep power lines, aircraft and cooling systems frost-free.

The researchers found that by reducing the diameter of the individual honeycomb cells to less than the wavelength of visible light, the coating became transparent, while retaining its robustness and slipperiness.

Now that this method has been proven, the researchers are working to improve it to make it easier to apply to curved glass and clear plastics.

The video below shows a demonstration of the new coating on curved watch glass.

Source: Wyss Institute

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5 Comments

NeverWet is available in a can.

Would love a comparison.

Nairda
8th August, 2013 @ 09:04 pm PDT

Nairda, the cost of NeverWet and the minimum quantities required for a purchase make it something that most people aren't going to experiment with. IF I KNEW it worked, I would bite the bullet and coat all my camping gear in it, but they won't sell it in a small amount to experiment with to see if it really does the job. We can hope this new substance will at least find its way onto our glasses and windshields.

Bryan Paschke
9th August, 2013 @ 01:47 pm PDT

Wait. Less than the wavelength of visible light?

Smaller than Infra Red ?

William Carr
9th August, 2013 @ 04:40 pm PDT

@Bryan Paschke: Ars did a pretty good set of tests. http://arstechnica.com/gadgets/2013/02/new-nanotech-promises-nothing-will-ever-get-wet-so-how-should-it-be-used/

Stradric
12th August, 2013 @ 01:11 pm PDT

Any new product is going to be expensive,but in time the cost comes down and the technology finds itself all over the place and on many products

Thomas Lewis
14th November, 2013 @ 10:31 am PST
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