Making metals hydrophobic with laser beams

By | January 23, 2015

Coating metal with chemicals to repel water is the thing of past. Scientist from University of Rochester have used laser techniques to coat metals which extremely bounce back water as if magically repelled from force field.



The process involves laser to etch a nanostructure on the material which does not wear off like the current less effective method. The laser technique engraves patterns of parallel grove and uses rapid pulse laser beam that are extremely strong, lasting just a few quadrillionth of a second.

The engraved pattern is much slipperier than Teflon (used on non-stick vessels) making the material more hydrophobic and repellent. The water droplets glide off the Teflon only when tilted to 70 degrees but a tilt of 4 degrees is enough for this new material. Chunlei  Guo, professor of Optics and Antolivy Vorobyev, senior scientist  of University of Rochester says, the surface of the material changes with the constant bombardment of laser beams, making it hydrophobic.

The scope of the technique could be radical for its applications in construction of aircraft surface (to avoid water freezing of the fuselage) to phones to gadgets to kitchen appliances to car to anything with metal. Talks are also going on to use the same technique for 100% water efficient water re-collection system in the under-developed countries. Also, to create toilets where there is no enough supply of water for proper cleaning. The non-wearing feature create an additional edge.

Below is the brief video by the team of scientists from University of Rochester showing the reaction of water on the hydrophobic material.