Nanotechnology Now

Our NanoNews Digest Sponsors

Heifer International

Wikipedia Affiliate Button

Home > Press > ORNL super water repellent could cause big wave in market

A water repellent developed by researchers at the Department of Energy's Oak Ridge National Laboratory outperforms nature at its best and could open a floodgate of commercial possibilities.

ORNL super water repellent could cause big wave in market

OAK RIDGE, TN | Posted on November 29th, 2007

The super-water repellent (superhydrophobic) material, developed by John Simpson, is easy to fabricate and uses inexpensive base materials. The patent-pending process could lead to the creation of a new class of water repellant products, including windshields, eyewear, clothing, building materials, road surfaces, ship hulls and self-cleaning coatings. The list of likely applications is virtually endless.

"My goal was to make the best possible water repellent surface," Simpson said. "What I developed is a glass powder coating material with remarkable properties that cause water-based solutions to bounce off virtually any coated surface."

The ORNL nano-structured material maintains a microscopic layer of air on surfaces even when submerged in water, resulting in a profound change in the basic water-solid interface. Simpson likes to refer to this as the "Moses effect."

Traditionally, Simpson noted that superhydrophobic coatings were expensive, were of poor water repellent quality or lacked the durability to make them practical.

"Existing high-quality superhydrophobic materials are generally relegated to university research laboratories because they are difficult and expensive to produce, not scalable to large volumes and not amenable to being made into a commercially viable coating," Simpson said.

The process for making superhydrophobic glass powder is based on differentially etching of two glass phases from phase-separated glass. Simpson starts with borosilicate phase separating glass as the base material, which he heats to separate further. He then crushes this material into a powder and differentially etches the powder to completely remove the interconnected borate glass phase. Differential etching makes the powder porous and creates nanoscale sharpened features. Finally, Simpson treats the powder with a special hydrophobic solution to change the glass surface chemistry from hydrophilic to hydrophobic.

The powder's porosity and nanoscale sharpened features amplify the effect of water's surface tension and causes the powder to become "unwettable."

"Such a superhydrophobic powder has many features and advantages, some of which include ease of manufacturing, low cost and scalability," Simpson said. "The fact that the coral-like nanoscale features can be preserved as the powder grain size is reduced allows us to make very small superhydrophobic powder grains."

That translates into needing only a small amount of inexpensive superhydrophobic powder to coat a relatively large surface area.

Another feature of this powder is its thermal insulation characteristics. Water does not enter the grain pores because the powder grains are superhydrophobic. This results in a dry breathable coating with trapped insulating air throughout. And, because the powder consists almost entirely of porous amorphous silica, it also makes a very good electrical insulator. In addition, since the powder creates a layer of air between the coated substrate and any water on the surface, water-based corrosion of the substrate is greatly reduced or entirely eliminated.

Simpson believes the number of possible applications will continue to expand as more people become aware of this technology.

"Staying dry in a rainstorm may only have a small personal value," Simpson said, "but reducing the energy required to transport products by boat or barge or extending the life of bridges or buildings would have a great value to society and individuals alike."


About Oak Ridge National Laboratory
UT-Battelle manages Oak Ridge National Laboratory for the Department of Energy. Simpson is a member of the Engineering Science and Technology Division. This research was funded by the Laboratory Directed Research and Development program.

For more information, please click here

Ron Walli
Communications and External Relations

Copyright © Oak Ridge National Laboratory

If you have a comment, please Contact us.

Issuers of news releases, not 7th Wave, Inc. or Nanotechnology Now, are solely responsible for the accuracy of the content.

Delicious Digg Newsvine Google Yahoo Reddit Magnoliacom Furl Facebook

Related News Press


NIST-made 'sun and rain' used to study nanoparticle release from polymers October 5th, 2016

New material to revolutionize water proofing September 12th, 2016

Tracing barnacle's footprint August 19th, 2016

Novel anti-biofilm nano coating developed at Ben-Gurion U.: Offers significant anti-adhesive potential for a variety of medical and industrial applications April 25th, 2016


Unusual quantum liquid on crystal surface could inspire future electronics October 22nd, 2016

Physicists use lasers to capture first snapshots of rapid chemical bonds breaking October 21st, 2016

Nanoparticle vaccinates mice against dengue fever October 21st, 2016

New perovskite solar cell design could outperform existing commercial technologies: Stanford, Oxford team creates high-efficiency tandem cells October 21st, 2016


Move over, solar: The next big renewable energy source could be at our feet October 20th, 2016

Smashing metallic cubes toughens them up: Rice University scientists fire micro-cubes at target to change their nanoscale structures October 20th, 2016

Study explains strength gap between graphene, carbon fiber: Rice University researchers simulate defects in popular fiber, suggest ways to improve it October 19th, 2016

Working under pressure: Diamond micro-anvils with huge pressures will create new materials October 19th, 2016


Unusual quantum liquid on crystal surface could inspire future electronics October 22nd, 2016

Nanosciences: Genes on the rack October 21st, 2016

Physicists use lasers to capture first snapshots of rapid chemical bonds breaking October 21st, 2016

Nanoparticle vaccinates mice against dengue fever October 21st, 2016

Patents/IP/Tech Transfer/Licensing

Leti to Tackle Tomorrow's Research Strategies with Stanford University’s SystemX Alliance: French R&D Center Is the First Research Institute to Join the Collaboration and Provides Bridges Between Academia and Industry, Leveraging Alliance’s Potential October 4th, 2016

Picosun patents ALD nanolaminate to prevent electronics from overheating September 28th, 2016

NIST Patents Single-Photon Detector for Potential Encryption and Sensing Apps September 16th, 2016

For first time, carbon nanotube transistors outperform silicon September 8th, 2016


Leti Scientists Participating in Sessions on Med Tech, Automotive Technologies, MEMS, Si-photonics and Lithography at SEMICON Europa: Teams also Will Demonstrate Technology Advances in Telecom, Data Fusion, Energy, Silicon Photonics and 3D Integration October 18th, 2016

Enhancing the Superconducting Properties of an Iron-Based Material: Scientists pioneer method that enables material to carry more electrical current without resistance at a higher temperature October 6th, 2016

Carbon-coated iron catalyst structure could lead to more-active fuel cells September 15th, 2016

GLOBALFOUNDRIES Launches Embedded MRAM on 22FDX® Platform: High-performance embedded non-volatile memory solution is ideally suited for emerging applications in advanced IoT and automotive September 15th, 2016


Stretchy supercapacitors power wearable electronics August 25th, 2016

Weird, water-oozing material could help quench thirst: Nanorods' behavior first theorized 20 years ago, but not seen until now June 13th, 2016

Programmable materials find strength in molecular repetition May 23rd, 2016

The impact of anti-odor clothing on the environment March 31st, 2016


DryWired's Liquid Nanotint to be the first nano-insulation in a Federal building: 250,000 federal buildings, most with uninsulated glass October 12th, 2016

New flexible material can make any window 'smart' August 23rd, 2016

Cement design should take into account the water confined in the smallest pores: A researcher at the UPV/EHU-University of the Basque Country is participating in the study of the stresses of confined water in the micropores of cement at extreme temperatures August 11th, 2016

Nothing -- and something -- give concrete strength, toughness: Rice University scientists show how voids, particles sap energy from cracks August 8th, 2016

The latest news from around the world, FREE

  Premium Products
Only the news you want to read!
 Learn More
University Technology Transfer & Patents
 Learn More
Full-service, expert consulting
 Learn More

Nanotechnology Now Featured Books


The Hunger Project