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Finnish researchers develop the most water-repellent surface ever

The new technique has applications in a range of fields, including plumbing.


Scientists have created a highly water-repellent surface, promising significant advantages in various fields.

Researchers from Aalto University and the University of Jyväskylä have developed solid silicon surfaces with a unique outer layer that behaves like a liquid, repelling water by causing droplets to slide off the surface.

This topcoat contains highly mobile molecules, called self-assembled monolayers (SAMs), that act as a lubricant between the product and the water droplets, making it resistant to wetting.

The discovery promises to have myriad implications wherever droplet-repellent surfaces are needed, from daily life to industrial solutions, such as plumbing, optics, and the auto and maritime industries.

“Things like heat transfer in pipes, de-icing and anti-fogging are potential uses,” said doctoral researcher Sakari Lepikko, lead author of the study. “It will also help with microfluidics, where tiny droplets need to be moved around smoothly, and with creating self-cleaning surfaces.”

Aalto University professor Robin Ras is leading the research team.

Aalto University

The technical benefits of liquid-like surfaces were recently reviewed in Nature Reviews Chemistry by Aalto University professor Robin Ras, who also led the research group.

The next step for the team is to continue experimenting with their self-assembling monolayer setup and finding ways to improve the layer.

“The main issue with a SAM coating is that it’s very thin, and so it disperses easily after physical contact,” Lepikko said.

By: James O’Sullivan