Thinking Tech

Ketchup technology could keep sauce from getting stuck in the bottle

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New research from Harvard scientists could solve one of life's biggest problems: ketchup stuck on the bottle.

Scientists have created a slippery material that would mean no more tapping on the bottle in order to get the ketchup dregs stuck at the bottom. The material is omniphobic, meaning it can repel water and oil-based liquids, which expands the range of products that it could be used for. Theoretically, it would coat the inside of condiment bottles and allow the contents inside to slide out easily. It's been tested on a wide variety of substances, including blood, water, crude oil and jam. Experimenters also found that ants could not walk across a surface coated in the material.

The Harvard University scientists who conducted the research named their product Slippery Liquid Infused Porous Surface (SLIPS) and took inspiration from a carnivorous plant that has a slippery surface at the top of its leaves in order to trap insects and cause them to slide inside the plant to be digested. After studying the plant, the scientists put a "lubricating film" in between the pores of a spongelike layer of Teflon, which produced the slippery surface they were looking for.

The implications of this technology extend beyond dinner table dilemmas into more serious global problems. Joanna Aizenberg, a Harvard University professor who worked on the project, told the Telegraph that she was most excited about the product because of its potential "use in the energy industry for making oil flow more efficiently through pipes for example."

[via the Telegraph]

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Jenny Wilson

Contributing Editor

Contributing Editor Jenny Wilson is a freelance journalist based in Chicago. She has written for Time.com and Swimming World Magazine and served stints at The American Prospect and The Atlantic Monthly magazines. She is currently pursuing a degree from Northwestern University's Medill School of Journalism. Follow her on Twitter. Disclosure