MOSCOW, January 24 (Sputnik) – Researchers at the University of Rochester in New York have demonstrated a new invention — supermetal.
The scientists have used lasers to transform metals into extremely water repellent, or super-hydrophobic, materials which don't need temporary coatings, reads a statement from the official site of the university.
The results of the research have been published in the Journal of Applied Physics, and describing a powerful and precise laser-patterning technique that creates an intricate pattern of micro- and nano-scale structures to give the metal its new properties.
The research is based on the earlier work of the team, in which they used a similar laser-patterning technique to turn metals black.
"The material is so strongly water-repellent, the water actually gets bounced off. Then it lands on the surface again, gets bounced off again, and then it will just roll off from the surface," Guo, a professor of optics in the University’s Hajim School of Engineering and Applied Sciences is quoted as saying.
With the help of their technique, Guo and his colleague at the University’s Institute of Optics, Anatoliy Vorobyev, say they can create multifunctional surfaces that are not only super-hydrophobic but also highly-absorbent optically.
With its ability to absorb light, the material could be used for durable, low maintenance solar collectors, such as sensors and solar power devices, while the water-repellant capability will make them resistant to ice and rust.
As the water bounces off the super-hydrophobic surfaces, it also collects dust particles and takes them along for the ride, the scientists say, which gives the material its self-cleaning property.
The scientists are excited by the potential applications of super-hydrophobic materials in developing countries.
"In these regions, collecting rain water is vital and using super-hydrophobic materials could increase the efficiency without the need to use large funnels with high-pitched angles to prevent water from sticking to the surface," says Guo. "A second application could be creating latrines that are cleaner and healthier to use."
The material also has applications for smartphones, which often get smudged and covered with finger-grease. Not only would a super-hydrophobic screen self-clean its way out of this problem, it could reduce glare by scattering incoming light rays in all directions.
Another potential use would be to use it to preventing ice from forming on the wings of an aircraft.