New material to revolutionize water proofing

September 8, 2016
Scientists at The Australian National University (ANU) have developed a new spray-on material with a remarkable ability to repel water. Credit: Stuart Hay, ANU

Scientists at The Australian National University (ANU) have developed a new spray-on material with a remarkable ability to repel water.

The new protective could eventually be used to waterproof mobile phones, prevent ice from forming on aeroplanes or protect 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 team created a much more robust coating than previous materials by combining two plastics, one tough and one flexible.

"It's like two interwoven fishing nets, made of different materials," Mr Wong said.

The water-repellent or superhydrophobic coating is also transparent and extremely resistant to ultraviolet radiation.

Lead researcher and head of the Nanotechnology Research Laboratory, Associate Professor Antonio Tricoli, said the new material could change how we interact with liquids.

"It will keep skyscraper windows clean and prevent the mirror in the bathroom from fogging up," Associate Professor Tricoli said.

"The key innovation is that this transparent coating is able to stabilise very fragile nanomaterials resulting in ultra-durable nanotextures with numerous real-world applications."

Credit: Australian National University

The team developed two ways of creating the material, both of which are cheaper and easier than current manufacturing processes.

One method uses a flame to generate the nanoparticle constituents of the material. For lower temperature applications, the team dissolved the two components in a sprayable form.

In addition to waterproofing, the new ability to control the properties of could be applied to a wide range of other coatings, said Mr Wong.

"A lot of the functional coatings today are very weak, but we will be able to apply the same principles to make robust coatings that are, for example, anti-corrosive, self-cleaning or oil-repellent," he said.

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RichManJoe
not rated yet Sep 08, 2016
Wow - can I use this to cover my screen bottom boat and then take a power drive through the Everglades?

Seriously, given widescale use, such as for roofing, my concern would be the erosion of the nanoparticles into the environment. Will they be another form of dangerous pollution threatening our marine environment?
Liquid1474
not rated yet Sep 08, 2016
....Seriously, given widescale use, such as for roofing, my concern would be the erosion of the nanoparticles into the environment. Will they be another form of dangerous pollution threatening our marine environment?


That's a good point--they are finding that Titanium Dioxide nanoparticles, found in many whitening agents that we ingest, may accumulate in the brain and cause cognitive issues as they are able to pass the blood-brain barrier.
TheGhostofOtto1923
5 / 5 (1) Sep 08, 2016


my concern would be the erosion of the nanoparticles into the environment
Why? You dont even know what they are.

"... nanoparticles, one of the "building blocks" of nanotechnology are all around us right now, and have been all around us throughout human history. They were with us when human beings began making their first tools, and they are present in products we buy at the grocery store every day. They largely flew under the radar until electron microscopes become commonplace several decades ago, but now, the more we turn our microscopes on everyday objects, the more nanoparticles we seem to find."

-Is it the strange-sounding word that scares you? Is it the word nanobot that first made you quiver?
Thorium Boy
not rated yet Sep 09, 2016
....Seriously, given widescale use, such as for roofing, my concern would be the erosion of the nanoparticles into the environment. Will they be another form of dangerous pollution threatening our marine environment?


That's a good point--they are finding that Titanium Dioxide nanoparticles, found in many whitening agents that we ingest, may accumulate in the brain and cause cognitive issues as they are able to pass the blood-brain barrier.


Just about every rough-ground product has "nano-sized" particles in it and they've been around for centuries, from flour to powdered aluminum used in fireworks. In addition, erosion on substances in the open, produce billions of TONS of nano-sized particles. Metal, rock, plastic, wood. Why the enviros think this is something new, is beyond me.

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