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A team of engineering researchers at the University of Michigan has developed a nanoscale coating that causes almost all liquids to bounce off surfaces treated with it. Consisting of at least 95 percent air, the new "superomniphobic" coating is claimed to repel the broadest range of liquids of any material in its class, opening up the possibility of super stain-resistant clothing, drag-reducing waterproof paints for ship hulls, breathable garments that provide protection from harmful chemicals, and touchscreens resistant to fingerprint smudges. Read More
York Minster is one of the largest Gothic cathedrals in Northern Europe and one of the great monuments of medieval architecture. Built in the city of York, UK between 1220 and 1472, it has suffered looting, vandalism, arson and a devastating fire after a lightning strike in 1984. Despite decades of restoration costing millions of pounds, the Minster still faces an implacable enemy, the air itself. In hopes of protecting the Minster from rotting away due to air pollution, Dr. Karen Wilson and Prof. Adam Lee of the Cardiff School of Chemistry, Cardiff University along with researchers at the University of Iowa have discovered that the key to saving the church may lie in olive oil. Read More
Butterfly wings cannot be very far behind geckos' toes so far as sources of inspiration for biomimicry research goes. Various properties of the wings of lepidopterans have triggered research into banknote forgery prevention, light reflection and solar cells. New research from Ohio State University suggests the delicate membranes may hold clues to dirt-resistance surfaces. Read More
You know that thing that water does when it boils? The thing with the bubbles? Turns out, it doesn't really need to do that at all, with scientists finding a way to make boiling water a completely bubble-free zone. Researchers from Northwestern University, King Abdullah University of Science and Technology in Saudi Arabia and Melbourne University in Australia teamed up to prevent water from bubbling when it boils by using tiny spheres coated with a hydrophobic material. Read More
Water-resistant down appears to be one of the next great materials of the outdoors. Last year and earlier this year, a handful of outdoor apparel manufacturers announced garments built around the material. More recently, the number of manufacturers has multiplied and plans to release a variety of water-resistant-down sleeping bags have surfaced. Read More

One year after the creation of a ten-legged robot that could walk on water, a team led by Prof. Qinmin Pan has come up with a new and updated concept that, also inspired by the water strider, can accomplish the much more difficult task of jumping across the water surface without sinking. Read More

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 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
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
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