Researchers have created resilient, ultra slippery glass, which could lead to self-cleaning, scratch-resistant windows, lenses and solar panels.
“The new coating could be used to create durable, scratch-resistant lenses for eyeglasses, self-cleaning windows, improved solar panels and new medical diagnostic devices,” said principal investigator Joanna Aizenberg PhD of the Wyss Institute for Biologically Inspired Engineering at Harvard University.
The new coating builds on an award-winning technology that Aizenberg and her team pioneered called Slippery Liquid-Infused Porous Surfaces (SLIPS) – the slipperiest synthetic surface known. The new coating is equally slippery, but more durable and fully transparent. Together these advances solve longstanding challenges in creating commercially useful materials that repel almost everything.
“The SLIPS-like coating is mechanically stable and has a long-lasting performance as a slippery surface because it’s composed of a sturdy honeycomb-like structure that holds lubricant in tiny, container-like pits,” said Nicolas Vogel.
To create this coating, the researchers corral a collection of tiny spherical particles of polystyrene, the main ingredient of Styrofoam, on a flat glass surface, like a collection of Ping-Pong balls. They pour liquid glass on them until the balls are more than half buried in glass. After the glass solidifies, they burn away the beads, leaving a network of craters that resembles a honeycomb. They then coat that honeycomb with the same liquid lubricant used in SLIPS.
Source: Wyss Institute