The world's most water-repellent fabric is a Belgian invention


Soon, no more raincoats that feel damp after a heavy shower, planes that need to be de-iced in harsh winter conditions ... The Flemish professor, Robin Ras, and Aalto University in Espoo, Finland, are working to make this a reality.

Water that lands on a surface tends naturally to stay on it. Unless your name is duck or broccoli, for example. The feathers of the former or the leaves of the latter cause the drops to roll off them due to their water-repellent structure. Teflon pans, albeit to a lesser extent, also have this property. But then again, there are PFAS in the non-stick coating and these are potentially harmful to our health and the environment. 

The Professor of Applied Physics, Robin Ras from Hamont, and his team at Aalto University in Espoo, Finland, near Helsinki, have succeeded in applying an extremely thin layer of vapourised molecules, barely one nanometre thick, to a silicon surface. Water droplets falling on it obtain little or no hold on the world's smoothest liquid surface and roll away. A bit like a ball bearing serves as a lubricant in order to reduce the friction significantly with a shaft. 

The applications of these stunning coatings are manifold. Some examples: keeping the camera lens of endoscopes and other medical equipment bacteria-free, cleaning sensors for the automotive industry, water-repellent clothing and ship and aircraft hulls upon which ice cannot settle. And all without PFAS!