The Loh Down On Science

This new material's powers will almost make you believe in magic!

Image courtesy of Xi Yao, Harvard University.

When stretched, the new material confers the ability to reversibly “pin” droplets of water, stopping them in their tracks.

If you dig action-packed films, you’ll love this one!

This is Sandra Tsing Loh with the Loh Down on Science.

Materials scientists from Harvard University have created a seemingly magical membrane.  Why magical?  You can change how transparent or how water-repellant it is, just by stretching it!

The magic is its three layers.  You begin with an elastic base.  Add a slab of flexible Teflon riddled with nanosized pores.  Last comes a coating of special lubricant with otherworldly properties.  It never dries up or drips.  And it makes the Teflon even slicker.  Liquids roll off with ease.

But now . . . Stretch it.  The nanopores widen and swallow the lube.  Presto!  The once-smooth surface is now pitted—and rougher and stickier than a cat’s tongue.  Liquids are stopped in their tracks.  The film also turns from translucent to opaque—because the rough surface scatters light.

Picture airy, sun-blocking tents that turn transparent and waterproof with darkness and rain.

Watch a video of it being tested.  Just go to our website and search for "nanofilm." 

I can't wait til they make a slip 'n slide from it!  Just sayin’

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

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