The new creation differs from similar previous discoveries in that it stays completely dry even after being submerged for several hours – and it has a lot of potential.
It sounds like science fiction, but it came true. A team of researchers at the University of Central Florida have created a new nanomaterial that repels water and manages to stay dry even when completely immersed.
The study was published in Advanced Materials and is authored by a team led by Debashis Chanda, a professor at the University’s Center for Technology and Nano Science, who reveals that the inspiration for the creation of the new nanomaterial came from the observation of the evolution of certain plants and biological species.
“Being water repellent or hydrophobic is nature’s tool to protect and self-clean plants against pathogens such as fungi, algae growth or algae accumulation. we take lotus leaf structure clues and we synthesize nanostructured materials based on molecular crystals of fullerenes,” he says in a statement.
C60 and C70 fullerenes are created from a combination of carbon molecules that form a closed, cage-like structure that can then be stacked.
Just a drop of a gel created from the fullerenes on any surface will work as a powerful water repellant. The gel also does not interfere with the original material where it is applied.
This discovery could open the door to the creation of more water-repellent surfaces, the development of electronic sensors that detect toxins or advances in hydrogen generation or bacterial disinfections.
“For example, this new gel makes electrocatalysis splitting easier, which can lead to more efficient fuel cells“, explains Chanda, who is enthusiastic about the potential of the discovery.
Most of the previously created hydrophobic surfaces had been created with microscopic patterns that involve complex lithographs and processes that cannot be replicated on all surfaces. Many of the earlier advances also didn’t completely dry out after being submerged for a few minutes.
This is not the case with the Florida investigators’ new discovery. “Even when they’re submerged in two feet (60 centimeters) of water for several hours, the surfaces remain dry“, concludes the investigator.
Adriana Peixoto, ZAP //