The Loh Down On Science

Hosted by Sandra Tsing Loh, The Loh Down on Science is a fun way to get your daily dose of science plus a dash of humor in less than two minutes. Hosted by Sandra Tsing Loh

See if This Sticks

by The Loh Down On Science

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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