Tak-Sing Wong from Harvard University has created a synthetic material so slippery that it makes a duck’s back look like a sponge. It is “omniphobic” – it repels everything. All manner of liquids, from water to blood to crude oil, roll straight off it. Ice cannot form on it. It even heals itself when damaged. It’s an extraordinary material and it was inspired by the lips of a flesh-eating plant. . . .
Wong has mimicked these structures to create SLIPS – slippery liquid-infused porous surfaces – that are more slippery than either their natural counterparts, or other man-made materials. They are made of either stacks of tiny posts, each a thousand times thinner than a human hair, or a random network of similarly thin fibres. These provide a rough structure, which Wong filled with a lubricant, just as the pitcher plant saturates its rough cells with nectar. The lubricant mixes with neither water nor oils, and it barely evaporates.
The SLIPS are like sponges – solid blocks that trap liquids – but they are designed to firmly hold the liquid in place, while keeping its surface smooth and flat. This combination allows them to to repel a far greater range of liquids than any other man-made surface. . . .
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