A new spray-on material from engineers at The Australian National University (ANU) offers a more robust waterproofing capability than previous coatings. Combining two plastics, one tough and one flexible, the invention could eventually be used to protect mobile phones, de-ice airplane parts, or keep boat hulls from corroding.
"The surface is a layer of nanoparticles, which water slides off as if it's on a hot barbecue," said PhD student William Wong, from the Nanotechnology Research Laboratory at the ANU Research School of Engineering.
The water-repellent or superhydrophobic coating is also transparent and extremely resistant to ultraviolet radiation. The spray-on invention stabilizes very fragile nanomaterials, resulting in ultra-durable nanotextures with numerous real-world applications, from keeping skyscraper windows clean to de-fogging a bathroom mirror.
The researchers used a flame to generate the nanoparticle constituents of the material. For lower-temperature applications, the team dissolved the two components in a sprayable form.