Laser Technique Transforms Metals into Extremely Water-Repellent Materials

Extremely water-repellent, or super-hydrophobic, materials are desirable for applications like rust prevention and anti-icing. However, most current hydrophobic materials rely on chemical coatings. Scientists at the University of Rochester have used lasers to transform metals into super-hydrophobic materials without the need for temporary coatings. Their powerful and precise laser-patterning technique creates an intricate pattern of micro- and nanoscale structures to give the metals their new properties. This work builds on earlier research by the team in which they used a similar laser-patterning technique that turned metals black. The researchers say the technique creates multifunctional surfaces that are not only super-hydrophobic but also highly absorbent optically. The materials are much more slippery than Teflon, a common hydrophobic material that often coats nonstick frying pans.