Research

Easy Squeezing

Nearly everyone has struggled with the frustration of trying to get ketchup, toothpaste, or peanut butter out of a container. These fluids and fluid-like substances are notoriously difficult to budge because they prefer to wet and adhere to solid surfaces. One way to limit this adhesion is to use a superhydrophobic surface, like the one shown in the middle image. These surfaces use micro- and nanoscale roughness to trap air pockets underneath a liquid and reduce the amount of contact between the liquid and solid. But such surfaces are delicate and prone to failure. The slippery alternative offered by LiquiGlide is a liquid-impregnated surface, shown in the bottom image. Like a superhydrophobic surface, it consists of a textured solid but one that’s filled with a liquid lubricant that preferentially wets the solid. As a result, the liquid to be shed has little to no contact with the actual solid surface and therefore slides easily off! (Image credit: LiquiGlide, source; research credit: K. Varanasi et al.; suggested by cnsidero)

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