Acting like an invisible force field, a new liquid coating may provide an extra layer of protection for front-line healthcare workers. The coating repels nearly all substances off a surface, enabling cleaning of personal protective equipment a bit easier.
Surfaces that can repel a broad range of liquids are called omniphobic. The new spray-on solution can make any surface, including a face shield, omniphobic. The applicability of these coatings has always been limited to silicon wafers or smooth glass. The new formulation can coat and protect just about any surface including metals, paper, ceramics, and even plastics.
The two-layer coating involves placing an ultra-smooth silica layer on a surface and then functionalizing this layer with a highly reactive silicone to effectively block all kinds of liquids from sticking on the surface. Not only does the coating repel countless substances but even under harsh exposure to UV light, acids, and high temperatures, the coating maintains its resistance qualities. If the coating does become damaged, it can be easily and repeatedly repaired, fully restoring the omniphobic properties to their initial state.
This technology has many applications but the researchers are currently focused on providing a solution that will keep nurses and doctors safe when battling COVID-19. The coating will prevent droplets or microbes from sticking to a face shield, making disinfecting the face shields feasible just with water rather than requiring complex disinfectant procedures.