Photokina 2014 highlights

Hydrophobic

A plastic material inspired by the leaves of the aquatic weed Salvinia molesta may lead to...

It may be an invasive weed that’s fouling waterways in the U.S., Australia and other countries, but it turns out that Salvinia molesta has at least one good point – it’s inspired a man-made coating that could help ships stay afloat. The upper surface of the floating plant’s leaves are coated with tiny water-repellent hairs, each of which is topped with a bizarre eggbeater-like structure. These hairs trap a layer of air against the leaf, reducing friction and providing buoyancy, while the eggbeaters grab slightly at the surrounding water, providing stability. Scientists at Ohio State University have successfully replicated these hairs in plastic, creating a buoyant coating that is described as being like “a microscopic shag carpet.”  Read More

Scientists have created an inexpensive, robust, liquid-repellent surface material, inspire...

Who doesn't like carnivorous plants? They eat pesky bugs, they look like something out of Flash Gordon, and now it turns out that one of them has inspired a new type of liquid-repellent surface. The inspirational flora is the pitcher plant, which is shaped like - well, like a water pitcher, or perhaps a wide-end-up trumpet. When insects step onto its slippery inner surface, they lose their footing and fall down into a pool of collected rainwater in its base, where they are digested. Scientists from Harvard University's School of Engineering and Applied Sciences (SEAS) have copied the structure of that inner surface and come up with a material that resists not only most liquids, but also ice and bacteria, and it does so under a wide range of conditions.  Read More

The Integrascope's LED (left) shines light through a drop of blood (center), and the refra...

When bodily fluids such as blood are tested for infectious diseases and unhealthy protein levels, they’re typically mixed with antibodies or other biological reactants to produce a positive or negative reaction. Researchers from Arizona State University (ASU) have now come up with an alternative testing system that they claim is just as accurate, but much simpler, quicker and cheaper. It utilizes LED lights and simple microelectronic amplifiers, and actually uses the sample itself as a diagnostic tool. Because it integrates the sample into the process, inventors Antonia Garcia and John Schneider call their device the Integrascope.  Read More

Synthetic cornea offers hope to thousands

Donor corneas are extremely rare, but for 40,000 people in Europe corneal transplantation from donors offer the only hope of addressing blindness in one or both eyes. That was, until Dr. Joachim Storsberg of the Fraunhofer Institute for Applied Polymer Research IAP in Potsdam-Golm created the first artificial cornea.  Read More

Unlocking water fern's secrets could pave the way for more efficient ships

Ships are big polluters and one of the key reasons for this is the energy lost due to friction as they move through the water. Numerous innovations in marine paint technology have sought to address this issue and now a group of German material research scientists have unlocked a secret that could radically improve fuel consumption... and it's all down to the marvelous properties of one small plant.  Read More

A new ultra-water-repellent surface mimics the minute hairs found on spider bodies

In recent years the lotus leaf has been the go-to surface for scientists looking to develop high-tech water repelling surfaces. Now engineering researchers have created what they say is a “nearly perfect hydrophobic interface” by borrowing from another of nature’s wonders - spiders. By reproducing the shape and patterns of the minute hairs that grow on the bodies of spiders, the researchers have created what may be the most water-phobic surface yet... a development that could lead to everything from self-cleaning surfaces to faster boats.  Read More

Roads covered in ice can be difficult and dangerous to drive on

Like most things, ice can be a blessing or a burden depending on the circumstances. It’s perfect crushed in a drink on a hot summer’s day, but can wreak havoc when it collects on roads, power lines and aircraft in freezing temperatures. A University of Pittsburgh-led team has found a way to reduce these dangers by developing a nanoparticle-based coating that can be easily applied to impede the buildup of ice on solid surfaces.  Read More

A new polymer coating has been designed to protect historic buildings from graffiti while ...

Graffiti is not only ugly, it costs society millions of dollars to remove it. But graffiti on historic landmarks is worse because it often can't be removed using basic caustic solutions without damage to the underlying surface. Now a new, breathable coating could help preserve some of our most beautiful and priceless links to the past by providing them with an efficient, all-round protection against attacks by taggers.  Read More

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