New Spray-On Material Could Fully Waterproof Smartphones

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

A team of scientists from The Australian National University (ANU) have invented a spray-on material with an incredible ability to repel water.

The newly developed protective coating can be used to protect boat hulls from corroding, prevent the formation of ice on aeroplanes, or waterproof mobile phones.

The surface is a layer of nanoparticles, which water slides off as if it's on a hot barbecue.

William Wong, PhD Student, ANU

The researchers integrated two plastics, one flexible and one tough in order to produce a coating stronger than materials that were earlier used.

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

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

Associate Professor Antonio Tricoli, key researcher and head of the Nanotechnology Research Laboratory, stated that the new material is capable of changing how people interact with liquids.

It will keep skyscraper windows clean and prevent the mirror in the bathroom from fogging up. 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.

Antonio Tricoli, Associate Professor, ANU

The researchers came up with two different ways to develop the material, both are easier and more cost-effective compared to the existing manufacturing processes.

In one method, a flame was used to develop the material’s nanoparticle constituents. Two components were dissolved in a sprayable form for applications at lower temperatures.

Wong stated that besides waterproofing, the newly discovered ability to monitor the properties of materials could be used for a variety of other coatings.

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.

William Wong, PhD Student, ANU

Video Credit: ANU TV/Youtube.com

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