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Hydrophobic

Diamonds in your washing machine can make your clothes sparkle (Photo: Shutterstock)

We all do laundry, or are perhaps lucky enough to have someone who does laundry for us. Most of that wash is done in warm or hot water, because, regardless of the claims made for laundry detergents, most detergents don't work very well in cold water. Unfortunately, the wash water has to be heated, and given an average wash temperature of about 40°C (104°F), this uses around 5-10 kWh per load. If both the temperature of the water and the amount of water used in clothes washing could be cut in half, nearly a trillion kilowatt-hours of energy could be saved each year - 0.5% of the world's total energy use. All that is stopping us is finding better laundry detergents. That's where the diamonds come in.  Read More

Researchers in Finland developed optical displays from water and air using a dual-scale su...

Researchers at Aalto University in Finland have discovered a novel way to write and present information using only water and air. They used the water-repelling properties of the lotus leaf as inspiration for an experiment with a superhydrophobic (“water-repelling”), dual-scale surface that allows the writing, erasing, rewriting and storing of optically displayed information in plastrons related to different length scales. The research was carried out in partnership with the Nokia Research Center and University of Cambridge and was led by Dr. Robin Ras at Aalto University.  Read More

Ultra smooth SLIPS (Slippery Liquid Porous Surfaces) developed at Harvard University could...

Although advances in refrigeration technology means we don’t need to defrost the freezer as often as we used to, many of us are still forced to carry out the task on a regular basis lest we find the frosty walls closing in to claim that tub of ice cream. Now a team from Harvard University has developed ultra smooth slippery surfaces that prevent ice sheets from developing by allowing even tiny drops of condensation or frost to simply slide off. As well as keeping freezers frost-free, the technology could be used to prevent ice build up on metal surfaces in wind turbines, marine vessels, and aircraft.  Read More

A piece of steel treated with the graphene varnish, in front of an untreated sample

Hexavalent chromium compounds are a key ingredient in coatings used to rust-proof steel. They also happen to be carcinogenic. Researchers, therefore, have been looking for non-toxic alternatives that could be used to keep steel items from corroding. Recently, scientists from the University at Buffalo announced that they have developed such a substance. It’s a varnish that incorporates graphene, the one-atom-thick carbon sheeting material that is the thinnest and strongest substance known to exist.  Read More

A new nanoparticle-based coating is said to repel water from porous materials, while still...

Keeping porous building materials free from stains and water damage has gotten a little easier in the past few years. Thanks to advances in technology, we’ve seen the advent of things such as spray-on glass and anti-graffiti coatings. Now, Spanish nanotech company TECNAN is offering a nanoparticle-based coating that repels liquid, yet still allows the underlying material to breathe.  Read More

This carbon nanotube sponge can hold more than 100 times its weight in oil, which can be s...

Last week we looked at the development of “hydrate-phobic” surfaces that could assist in the containment of oil leaks in deep water. Now, by adding boron to carbon while growing nanotubes, researchers have developed a nanosponge with the ability to absorb oil spilled in water. Remarkably, the material is able to achieve this feat repeatedly and is also electrically conductive and can be manipulated with magnets.  Read More

'Hydrate-phobic' surface coatings could prevent blockages on deep-sea gas and oil wells (P...

As the world’s appetite for oil and gas continues to increase while access to easily accessible reserves decreases, deep-sea oil and gas wells are being positioned in ever-deeper waters. The dangers and difficulties faced in such operations were highlighted in 2010 with the Deepwater Horizon oil spill. While placing a containment dome over a leak and piping the oil to a surface storage vessel had worked on leaks in shallower water, the attempt to do the same on the Deepwater Horizon’s largest leak failed when the formation of methane hydrate crystals blocked the opening at the top of the dome. Now researchers at MIT have developed surface coatings that can inhibit the buildup of these methane hydrates and keep the gas and oil flowing.  Read More

Might Professor Grinstaff's superhydrophobic material one day form the basis of implants t...

Scientists have developed a new material that can slowly release medication over a period of several months. It's hoped that the "superhydrophobic material" may one day lead to implants that would assist in the treatment of chronic pain, and in the prevention of recurring cancer tumors, by gradually releasing medication over a period of months. The team of scientists is now planning in vivo experiments to gauge the effectiveness of the material in living organisms.  Read More

Sierra Designs men's Gnar Lite jacket

Outdoor clothing manufacturers are determined to solve the one problem that the world's ultimate insulator has: ineffectiveness when wet. Sierra Designs and Brooks Range are both introducing specially treated down jackets, that they claim work effectively in both wet and dry conditions.  Read More

Liquipel is a nanocoating claimed to protect mobile devices from 'accidental water damage'

We all know that water and mobile electronic devices aren’t a good mix. But living on a world whose surface is around 70 percent water can sometimes make it hard to keep the two separate. While wrapping your device in a waterproof case will provide protection, they add bulk and can sometimes affect usability. California-based company Liquipel claims to have developed a hydrophobic nanocoating one thousand times thinner than a human hair that can be applied to a smartphone to protect it from accidental spills without affecting its functionality.  Read More

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