PROVO, Utah – Researchers at Brigham Young University have found a new way to channel water off of surfaces.
The surfaces are cut with lasers to create a structure with etchings coated with Teflon; the etchings are about a tenth of the size of a human hair and make it so water won’t stick to the surface.
"That's called super-hydrophobic,” said Julie Crockett, a professor of mechanical engineering at BYU.
Researchers said the project has a variety of potential applications.
"You think about any type of situation where you have surfaces that you don't want to get dirty or contaminated in any way, whether it's waterproof clothing, or boots, or industrial equipment that needs to stay pristine, solar panels, you can't afford to have them get dirty,” said Dan Maynes, a professor of mechanical engineering at BYU.
Researchers also hope the method will help things move through water more easily.
"If you want to have a torpedo that can go faster than a conventional torpedo, then these surfaces have the potential to reduce the drag on that torpedo,” Maynes said. “If you want a ship that you can reduce the drag on, these surfaces have the potential to do that."
The school’s engineering department has been working on the technology for about three years, but researchers said it could be another 10 years before the technology winds up on a ship.