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Omniphobic Liquid-like Surfaces And de Camp's Telelubricator (1940)

The most water-resistant surface in the world? If so, it would have many applications in the home and in industry.

The research team created solid silicon surfaces with a “liquid-like” outer layer that repels water by making droplets slide off surfaces. The highly mobile topcoat acts as a lubricant between the product and the water droplets.

The discovery challenges existing ideas about friction between solid surfaces and water, opening a new avenue for studying slipperiness at the molecular level.

Sakari Lepikko, the lead author of the study, which was published in Nature Chemistry on Monday, said: “Our work is the first time that anyone has gone directly to the nanometer-level to create molecularly heterogeneous surfaces.”

By carefully adjusting conditions, such as temperature and water content, inside a reactor, the team could fine-tune how much of the silicon surface the monolayer covered.

(Via The Guardian.)

Liquid-repellent surfaces, especially smooth solid surfaces with covalently grafted flexible polymer brushes or alkyl monolayers, are the focus of an expanding research area. Surface-tethered flexible species are highly mobile at room temperature, giving solid surfaces a unique liquid-like quality and unprecedented dynamical repellency towards various liquids regardless of their surface tension.

Omniphobic liquid-like surfaces (LLSs) are a promising alternative to air-mediated superhydrophobic or superoleophobic surfaces and lubricant-mediated slippery surfaces, avoiding fabrication complexity and air/lubricant loss issues. More importantly, the liquid-like molecular layer controls many important interface properties, such as slip, friction and adhesion, which may enable novel functions and applications that are inaccessible with conventional solid coatings.

(Via Omniphobic liquid-like surfaces.)

In his wry 1940 short story The Exhalted, science fiction writer L. Sprague de Camp describes a similar approach to making surfaces "slicker than ice":


('The Exhalted' by L. Sprague de Camp)

"...My telelubricator here neutralizes the interatomic bonds the surface of any solid on which the beam falls. So the surface, to the depth of a few molecules, is put in the condition of a supercooled liquid as long as the beam is focused on it. Since the liquid form of any compound will wet the solid form, you have perfect lubrication."

(Read more about de Camp's telelubricator)

Scroll down for more stories in the same category. (Story submitted 10/15/2023)

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