New Waterproof Material that halts Water on Demand

Have you ever thought on going to a place where weather is unpredictable? If so, here is the solution for the weather problem. A tent that blocks the light on a sunny day and becomes transparent and waterproof on a dim, rainy one could be one of the outcome of this work by a team from Harvard’s Wyss Institute. Have a look at this video.

Joanna Aizenberg and her colleagues produced an elastic thin film material with nano-sized pores. This material is then coated and infused with liquid.

At rest, the material is smooth, clear and flat; droplets of water or oil on its surface flow freely off it.

But when it is stretched, the liquid coating the film recedes into the expanded pores, exposing their edges and reducing lubrication, causing it to become rougher. This rough surface also makes the material more opaque


The researchers were able to make every droplet of oil or water placed on the material to run or stop in its tracks (a response which the team describes as “pinning”), simply by flexing the material or letting it relax as in this video (source: Harvard’s Wyss Website)

The work was inspired by our tears, which when grouped together, form a coating over our eyes with multiple function. Individual tears join up to form a dynamic liquid film that helps maintain optical clarity, while keeping the eye moist, protecting it against dust and bacteria, and helping to transport waste away.

In addition to the tent idea, the researchers say another possible application of the research could be highly precise, self-adjusting contact lenses that also clean themselves. Another might be pipelines that can optimise the rate of flow depending on the volume of fluid coming through them and the environmental conditions outside.

(news source: BBC news, image source: Havard Wyss Institute’s results)

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