The Loh Down On Science

See if This Sticks

Travel-mug coffee spill?  No worries!

This is Sandra Tsing Loh with the Loh Down on Science
 
And good news for stain-prone people.

Meet engineers from the University of Michigan. Using plastic polymers developed by the Air Force, they've created a new kind of non-stick coating ... one that repels blood, oils, accelerants--even caustic acids.  The coating's key?  Air!

See, when a liquid touches a solid surface like cloth, it flattens out, covering more area. Now, molecular forces of attraction between the liquid and solid have more chances to meet. When they tangle, the liquid "soaks in."

The new coating is made of tiny filaments arranged in a grid, meaning that it's mostly just air. So it lacks enough surface area for the liquid to be absorbed. Instead, liquids literally bounce off as intact droplets.

The coating has lots of applications: stain-resistant clothing, safer outerwear for lab techs, protective yet more-breathable uniforms for soldiers.

Its "superomniphobic" quality repels almost anything!  Except nerdy engineers you meet in bars who want to show you their new plastic coating. Sorry!

The Loh Down on Science is produced by LDOS Media Lab, with 89.3 KPCC Pasadena, California. And made possible by the generous support of the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation.

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