MIT's New Super Slippery Surface

MIT scientists have created a new kind of hydrophobic material that is incredibly slippery, beating existing hydrophobic surfaces by a factor of 10,000.


(Enhanced Condensation on Lubricant-Impregnated Nanotextured Surfaces video)

The key to the improved hydrophobic (water-shedding) surface is a combination of microscopic patterning—a surface covered with tiny bumps or posts just 10 um across, about the size of a red blood cell—and a coating of a lubricant, such as oil. The tiny spaces between the posts hold the oil in place through capillary action, the researchers found.

The team discovered that droplets of water condensing on this surface moved 10,000 times faster than on surfaces with just the hydrophobic patterning. The speed of this droplet motion is key to allowing the droplets to fall from the surface so that new ones can form, increasing the efficiency of heat transfer in a power plant condenser, or the rate of water production in a desalination plant.

With this new treatment, "drops can glide on the surface," Varanasi says, floating like pucks on an air-hockey table and looking like hovering UFOs—a behavior Varanasi says he has never seen in more than a decade of work on hydrophobic surfaces. "These are just crazy velocities."

The amount of lubricant required is minimal: It forms a thin coating, and is securely pinned in place by the posts. Any lubricant that is lost is easily replaced from a small reservoir at the edge of the surface. The lubricant can be designed to have such low vapor pressure that, Varanasi says, "You can even put it in a vacuum, and it won't evaporate."

In Frank Herbert's 1965 novel Dune, Dune has no surface water; all water is precious and is carefully measured and stored, so the native Fremen perfected a water repellent surface:

A splashing sounded on her left. She looked down the shadowy line of Fremen, saw Stilgar with Paul standing beside him and the watermasters emptying their load into the pool through a flowmeter. The meter was a round gray eye above the pool's rim. She saw its glowing pointer move as the water flowed through it, saw the pointer stop at thirty-three liters, seven and three-thirty-seconds drachms.

Superb accuracy in water measurement, Jessica thought. And she noted that the walls of the meter trough held no trace of moisture after the water's passage. The water flowed off those walls without binding tension. She saw a profound clue to Fremen technology in the simple fact: they were perfectionists.

Via RNDMag.

Scroll down for more stories in the same category. (Story submitted 10/24/2012)

Follow this kind of news @Technovelgy.

| Email | RSS | Blog It | Stumble | del.icio.us | Digg | Reddit |

Would you like to contribute a story tip? It's easy:
Get the URL of the story, and the related sf author, and add it here.

Comment/Join discussion ( 3 )

Related News Stories - (" Material ")

Shape-Shifting Carbon Fiber
'Its lines wavered, flowed, and then painfully reformed.'- Philip K. Dick, 1957.

'Diamond Nanothreads' Now, Someday Space Elevators?
'It is a continuous pseudo-one dimensional diamond crystal'- Arthur C. Clarke, 1978.

Diamond Nanothreads For Space Elevators?
'Continuous pseudo-one dimensional diamond crystal.'- Arthur C. Clarke.

Liquid Metal Technology Now Exists
'A mimetic poly-alloy.' John Cameron, 1991.

 

Google
  Web TechNovelgy.com   

Technovelgy (that's tech-novel-gee!) is devoted to the creative science inventions and ideas of sf authors. Look for the Invention Category that interests you, the Glossary, the Invention Timeline, or see what's New.

 

 

 

 

 

Current News

3D Printer 'Teleports' Objects Like Simak's Way Stations
'An entirely new being but exactly like the old one'

Laser Etching Makes Metal Super-Hydrophobic
'The water flowed off those walls without binding tension.'

Patient Walks Out With Fully Artificial Heart
'The throb of the robot pump gave him confidence...'

Radisens' Gemini Instant Blood Tests
An amazing lab-on-a-panel.

Nonhuman Artist Collective Keeps Robot Artist Earnings Until Legal
Pay the artists!

Argentine Orangutan Receives Basic Human Rights
'They wouldn't dare let the Fuzzies be proven sapient...'

Elon Musk, Google To Extend Internet Into Earth Orbit, Then Mars
'This was the center of Interplanetary Communications.'

Range R Lets Police See Into Your House
There are lots of ways to see through walls!

Thync Mood Alteration Like PKD's Mood Organ
'I sat down at my mood organ and I experimented...'

Atlas DRC Robot Now Untethered
Would a robot walking toward you make you feel afraid?

VirtualGreen Putting Simulator Like Brin's Needle-Gym
'My eyes saw a tiny, off-white chamber, its coarse floor of needles mimicking a steep hillside...'

VW Golf R Touch With Gesture Control
'All you had to do was wave your hand...'

The Bioengineered Uterus
Will it ever exist?

3Doodler 2.0 Create A 3D Object With A Pen
'Plastic comes out of the end of the drawing arm and hardens as it comes.'

Cambrian Genetics Says 'Print Your Own Genetically Unique Creature'
'The study of Nature makes a man at last as remorseless as Nature.'

Meet 'Ross', Your Watson-Based Legal Researcher
'Why don't we just feed the bloody thing to LEX and ask for a summary?'

More SF in the News Stories

More Beyond Technovelgy science news stories

Home | Glossary | Invention Timeline | Category | New | Contact Us | FAQ | Advertise |
Technovelgy.com - where science meets fiction™

Copyright© Technovelgy LLC; all rights reserved.