Nonstick Surface Goes Toe-to-Toe With Nature


A new nonstick surface developed by researchers at the Pennsylvania State Univ. could improve condensation-based heat transfer for power-plant heat exchangers, enable more-efficient water harvesting in arid areas, and prevent the formation of ice and frost on aircraft wings.

The material combines the slippery features of lotus leaves with those of the pitcher plant. The surface of the material contains micro-scale pillars that mimic the tiny hairs and bumps found on the lotus leaves. On the surface of the pillars, the scientists etched a network of nanoscale pores and filled those pores with a lubricant. The lubricant-filled pores are modeled after the pitcher plant.

To understand how the new material works, it is helpful to take a look at the physics of droplets on rough surfaces. Droplets that form on rough surfaces exist in one of two states. In the Cassie state, the droplet sits on top of the surface with air trapped underneath. A droplet in the Cassie state is highly mobile and can thus roll off of...

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