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 ")

Living Concrete Repairs Itself
Science fiction fans were given this idea in 1951.

Metal Composite Floats Your Boat
'A metal that was apparently as light as cork and stronger than steel...' - Edgar Rice Burroughs, 1929.

LiquiGlide Will Be Everywhere
'They poured the remnants of eggs out of their frictionless cups...'- Larry Niven, 1973.

Synthetic 'Squid Skin' For Camouflage On The Way
'The small, chameleon-clad figures continued to advance.'- Gordon R. Dickson, 1960.

 

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

Ecocapsule - Simak's Dream Of A Prefab House
'They are heated and air conditioned by a solar plant that tops anything... that we have today.'

New Super Slippery Surface Better Than Nature's
'The water flowed off those walls without binding tension.'

Killer Robot COTSBot Stalks Starfish
'X-120's long jointed arms swung swiftly. The tiny animal lay crushed...'

Heart-In-A-Box Saves Organ For Later
'Storage in the hospital's organ banks...'

MultiFab 10-Material 3D Printer
'On the concrete platform, in front of the dying Biltong, lay a heap of originals to be duplicated.'

Chaac Ha Dew Collector ala Dune
'The surface condenses moisture out of the air. That moisture trickles down...'

Digital Immortality For Your Personality
'You've got remote storage. How regular is the update?'

Robots Take Our Jobs By Reading Our Instructions
'The Talk Between Robots radio...'

Surgery In Space
' It was a ... coffin, form-fitted to Nessus himself...'

Flimmer Navy Drone Flies And Swims
Launch the Flying Sub!

Taser Drones Now Legal In North Dakota
'I sent my eyes on their rounds and tended my gallery of one hundred-thirty changing pictures...'

Growing Metal In The Shape You Want
What more do you need, engineers?

Self-Healing Materials For Spacecraft
'It even had an inter-skin layer of gum that sealed the punctures...'

World's First Full-Colour, Flexible Thin-Film Reflective Display
'A wide sheet of clear material suddenly flared with light and swirling colour....'

Jazz AI Compliments Of DARPA
'I request that you feed the correlation between those dots and the levers of the panel into my memory banks.'

Tasty Space Lettuce!
Having tested, we tasted.

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.