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Researchers create the most waterproof surface yet

Posting in Technology
Using inspiration from butterfly wings and nasturtium leaves, researchers have created what they say is the most water-repellent surface yet. The latest research puts the lotus effect to shame and could have an impact on numerous industries.

The MIT researchers created a ridged surface that sheds water 40 percent faster than what was previously thought to be the fastest a water droplet could bounce away from a surface.

"We believe these are the most super-hydrophobic surfaces yet," said Kripa Varanasi, a co-author of the research published in Nature, told the BBC.  "For years industry has been copying the lotus. They should start thinking about copying butterflies and nasturtiums." Super-hydrophobic meaning, of course, surfaces that are very difficult to get wet.
 
Here's a close up look at how quickly the surface repels water.


The clothing industry is the most obvious one where this waterproofing breakthrough could have an impact. The researchers also point to airplane surfaces, where water buildup on wings can cause water to freeze in place. Also, turbine blades at power plants could benefit as water buildup hurts efficiency.

The best part: creating these ultra-dry surface textures is a fairly simple process according to a university press release. "The ridges can be produced by ordinary milling tools, such as on the surface of an aluminum plate, making the process scalable to industrial levels."

Photo: Flickr/Kevin Krejci

— By on November 21, 2013, 1:19 PM PST

Tyler Falk

Contributing Editor

Tyler Falk freelance journalist based in Washington, D.C. Previously, he was with Smart Growth America and Grist. He holds a degree from Goshen College. Follow him on Twitter. Disclosure