Researchers create most waterproof material in history inspired by butterfly wings

Nov 22, 2013
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Researchers around the world are constantly working on projects that seem strange at first glance, but often have suppressing practical applications. A group of researchers in the US have been working on creating waterproof materials. One of the most waterproof materials in nature is the lotus leaf and a group of researchers in the US says that they have surpassed that material.

Researchers from MIT say that they have created the most waterproof material ever made. The official name for waterproof materials is hydrophobic and the new material created at MIT is dubbed "Super-hydrophobic." The material has interesting applications ranging from keeping aircraft engines from icing over to helping keep clothes dry.

To create the material, the scientists added tiny ridges to a surface made from silicon. The little ridges made water bounce off the surface 40% faster than the previous water-shedding limit. The researchers say that similar ridges are found in nature on the wings of the Morpho butterfly and in the veins of nasturtium leaves.

By applying the ridged pattern to manmade surfaces like metal, fabric, and ceramics, the researchers hope to make a new generation of products able to withstand moisture. Making the water bounce off the surface 40% faster means the material stays drier. The team says that in experiments when they added the ridges to a surface at super-cooled temperatures, the water droplets bounced off fast enough that they didn’t have time to freeze. The researchers plan to optimize the process further and believe they can get a 70 to 80% reduction on droplet contact time with refinement.

SOURCE: BBC


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