A team of researchers at the University of Michigan have developed a nanoscale coating that can be applied to any surface to repel liquids. The ‘superomniphobic’ coating is at least 95% air and causes liquids to bounce off the treated surface. To apply it, the researchers used electrospinning to create fine particles of solid from a liquid solution with an electric charge.
The coating is a mixture of rubbery plastic particles of “polydimethylsiloxane” and liquid-resisting nanoscale cubes developed by the Air Force that contain carbon, fluorine, silicon, and oxygen. Anish Tuteja, assistant professor of materials science and engineering, chemical engineering and macromolecular science and engineering, said:
Virtually any liquid you throw on it bounces right off without wetting it. For many of the other similar coatings, very low surface tension liquids such as oils, alcohols, organic acids, organic bases and solvents stick to them and they could start to diffuse through and that’s not what you want.
In one demonstration, the treated surface repelled coffee, soy sauce, vegetable oil, toxic hydrochloric and sulfuric acids. It’s also resistant to gasoline and various alcohols. The coating could be used to create stain-resistant clothing, breathable garments to protect soldiers and scientists from chemicals, and waterproof paints to make ships faster by reducing drag.