Scientists Created the World’s Most Water-Repellent Material

Finnish researchers discovered a super slippery material that has many practical applications.


Study, Innovation
Highly water-resistant material.

(Ivan Popovych /

Everyone knows the idiom “like water off a duck’s back”. But what if there was a material that was even more water resistant than a duck? Recently, researchers from Finland discovered the most water-repellent material ever, even more slippery than a duck.

An innovative water-repelling surface
In February 2023, Finish scientists from Aalto University, published a study in the journal Nature about Omniphobic Liquid-like Surfaces. Though the subject sounds quite obtuse, the idea behind it is actually quite simple, reported The Guardian. The researchers created a hard silicon surface with a sort of liquid-like outer layer that repels water. It does this by making the water droplets slide off the surface.   

The research team used a special reactor to devise the layer of self-assembled molecules (SAM) that make up the liquid outer layer, According to Interesting Engineering. This molecularly heterogeneous surface was then manipulated by changing the temperature, water content and other factors in the reactor until the material showed optimal water-resistance. 

One of the main factors in terms of slipperiness, the team found, according to The Guardian, was how much of the silicon surface the SAM covered. Dr. Robin Ras, the team leader from Aalto University told The Guardian, “The results showed more slipperiness when SAM coverage was low or high, which are also the situations when the surface is most homogeneous. At low coverage, the silicon surface is the most prevalent component, and at high, SAMs are the most prevalent.”

Many potential applications
Though the idea of this material may seem esoteric, there are many potential practical applications for it. It can be used for heat-transfer in pipes, anti-fogging and de-icing devices. The hope is that this new material created in 2023 can similarly revolutionize many other fields from plumbing to industrial engineering.

But, one of the practical issues with SAM is that it is very fragile and thin, and tends to disperse with physical contact. But this is solved by a previous discovery from Aalto University. In 2020 a researchers developed a different sort of super strong superhydrophobic surface. This surface can be used in medical settings to repel water and thus help fight the spread of viruses and bacteria, which is vital in a medical environment like a hospital. 

While most people do not usually think about the importance of water resistance for industrial or medical purposes, the researchers from Aalto have shown that  theoretical ideas in science have practical applications for day to day living.

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