If you think IPX8 grade waterproofing is already astounding, prepare to pick up your jaw after seeing this new metal etching technique. Researchers at the University of Rochester were able to come up with a laser-etching method that creates what is probably the most super hydrophobic sheet of metal in the world. It’s so hydrophobic that water doesn’t simply roll off to one side when tilted at an angle. Water drops actually bounce off repeatedly until they
either fall off the edge.
Hydrophobic metals aren’t exactly new and we’ve seen their applications even in regular household equipment, like that non-stick frying pan. But those pans still need to be tilted at a certain angle, like 70 degrees, before rolling off the surface. And since they just use some kind of chemical coating, the hydrophobic properties wear off eventually.
The researchers resorted instead to lasers to create an intricate pattern of nano structures on the metal. This method has two-fold benefits. The first is that, unlike chemical coating, there is no danger of wearing off since the patterns are part of the metal itself. And the most important benefit is, of course, the water bouncing effect.
The video below gives a more in-depth and scientific exposition of the method used to create the metal.
Don’t expect to see this kind of metal in consumer products any time soon, considering the process involved isn’t exactly geared towards that market yet. The first applications of this new technology, if it ever does get out of the laboratory, will most likely be industry and medicine, where the metal can, for example, help keep frost from accumulating on plane wings or keeping surface dry and free from bacteria.