Science of the Day: Watch Water Bounce Off a Superhydrophobic Surface

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Researchers at the University of Rochester have created a new type of water-resistant metal where drops literally bounce off the surface.

They achieved this by using a special laser-patterning technique that adds tiny structures to the material.

Most other surfaces that are water-repellant aren’t as powerful and rely on chemical coatings which can wear away over time, but this is permanent.

Rochester’s Chunlei Guo says this superhydrophobic material has a lot of real-world applications, especially in developing countries.

“In these regions, collecting rain water is vital and using super-hydrophobic materials could increase the efficiency without the need to use large funnels with high-pitched angles to prevent water from sticking to the surface,” he says. “A second application could be creating latrines that are cleaner and healthier to use.”

If you think this sounds like something a sewage-water drinking Bill Gates might be interested in, you’d be right, as the project was supported by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.

Years ago, this same team created the exact opposite effect, with a material that attracts water so strongly that the liquid will actually crawl up the surface.