Engineers at Colorado State University (CSU) have developed a “superomniphobic” tape that repels liquid from any surface, and which has a wide potential range of uses.
Superomniphobic materials work by providing a cushion of air between a solid surface and liquids. Researchers have been studying the area for around a decade, but until now superomniphobic properties have only been achieved via expensive coatings and sprays. This latest work, published by the American Chemical Society, details how the CSU team created a material with the flexibility of sticky-tape, but which can repel a variety of liquids, including oil and water.
The research was led by Arun Kota, an assistant professor of mechanical engineering at CSU’s School of Biomedical Engineering, alongside doctoral student Hamed Vahabi and postdoctoral fellow Wei Wang. According to to the team, using the tape requires no special expertise, and it has a range of civilian, commercial, and military applications including corrosion resistance, self-cleaning, drag reduction, and liquid waste minimisation.
“Fabrication of most superomniphobic surfaces requires complex process conditions or specialised and expensive equipment or skilled personnel,” said the paper’s abstract.
“In order to circumvent these issues and make them end-user-friendly, we developed the free-standing, flexible, superomniphobic films. These films can be stored and delivered to the end-users, who can readily attach them to virtually any surface (even irregular shapes) and impart superomniphobicity. The hierarchical structure, the re-entrant texture, and the low solid surface energy render our films superomniphobic for a wide variety of liquids.”
While major advances have been made in the study of superomniphobic materials, so far no one has managed to develop a coating or substance that is mechanically durable. Kota has already filed a patent for the new tape, and the next step in the team’s research will investigate improving the material’s durability.