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January 9th, 2008
Were you soaked in last summer's heavy rainstorms? John Simpson, a senior research scientist at the Department of Energy's Oak Ridge National Laboratory in Tennessee, has developed a new super-water-repellent coating that might make a dismal British summer more bearable. Although helping stay dry in bad weather is one application, Simpson believes that there are many other possibilities.
"My goal was to make the best possible water-repellent surface," says Simpson. "What I developed is a glass powder coating material with remarkable properties that cause water-based solutions to bounce off virtually any coated surface."
His project began from a demonstration of a novel fabrication method to make uniform microarrays of spiked cones - he calls them nanocones - which would have the best water-repellent properties theoretically possible. Following that research, he's now developed a superhydrophobic coating from inexpensive base materials - a phase-separated borosiliciate glass like that used to make test tubes.
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