Superhydrophobic Coatings

Superhydrophobic–or water repellent–materials are much sought after. Their remarkable ability to shed water is actually mechanical in nature–not chemical. Surfaces with a highly textured microstructure, like a lotus leaf or a butterfly wing, shed water naturally because air trapped between the high points prevents the water from contacting most of the solid surface. The result is that a drop sitting on the surface will have a very high contact angle and be nearly spherical. Instead of wetting the surface and spreading out, it can slide right off, as seen in the animations above. Here researchers have treated the coins and the right half of the cardboard with a spray-on coating that creates superhydrophobic microscale roughness. Similar coatings are commercially available, but such coatings are delicate and lose their hydrophobicity over time as the microstructure breaks down. (Image credits: Australian National University, source)

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