Video: New Super-Waterproof Material Makes Water Drops Bounce Off

Nanocones make surfaces more hydrophobic than ever before.
Brookhaven National Laboratory

Is that a rubber ball making its way down a two-by-four? No, it’s actually a drop of water hitting a strip of experimental material that’s so water-resistant, it makes drops bounce.

The video above comes from the work of a team of materials scientists from the Brookhaven National Laboratory in New York. The team created a new, super-waterproof material by engineering a surface with particular nano-scale structures. Scientists are continually looking to make waterproof materials that can coat boat hulls, car parts and medical devices. Such coatings, which are technically called super-hydrophobic coatings, help keep vehicles and devices clear of ice, algae and other unwanted stuff.

In this case, a team of three scientists made and tested two different 20-nanometer-wide surface structures: cylindrical columns and thin, pointy cones. They found water could still cling to the flat tops of the columns, but the cones forced water to ball up and roll away, even when the Brookhaven team sprayed water at the new material at high speed.

The team will now work to make these nano-structures on the surface of plastic and glass. Team members will also study how different surface structures interact with water using Brookhaven’s synchrotron.

They published their work yesterday in the journal Advanced Materials.

Brookhaven National Laboratory