“We make coatings. We manipulate surfaces using different techniques to repel liquids,” said ME faculty member Dr. Arun Kota whose research in superomniphobic technology was recently published by the American Chemical Society. At first glance, it may seem simple, but the potential impact this technology could have on our world is extraordinary.
Superomniphobic surfaces are extremely repellent to all liquids, made possible by an air cushion that lies between a liquid and a solid surface.
With more than 10 years of research under his belt, Dr. Kota has made many significant breakthroughs in the field of super-repellent coatings including his latest discovery – a superomniphobic tape that if adhered to any surface, would give it liquid repelling properties. This product is similar in flexibility to Scotch Tape, but has the additional functionality of being repellent to virtually all liquids.
The concept of superomniphobic surfaces isn’t new. Researchers have been studying superomniphobic coatings since about 2007, and currently superomniphobic coatings can be sprayed, deposited or etched onto any surface for a similar effect; however, it must be done by an experienced professional and requires costly equipment. By contrast, a superomniphobic film can be used by anyone, making it a practical solution in a variety of fields.
Dr. Kota, his doctoral student, Hamed Vahabi, and his postdoctoral fellow Dr. Wei Wang developed this product and demonstrated applications where this technology could positively impact our world.
The challenges that lie ahead in this field are exciting yet puzzling. Many applications for superomniphobic coatings have already been outlined and include protective apparel for soldiers, surgeons, and firefighters, along with fingerprint-resistant surfaces, and more; however, coming up with a superomniphobic coating that is mechanically durable for these applications remains a major challenge.
What’s next for superomniphobic film? CSU has filed a patent on behalf of Dr. Kota, and sees tape and adhesive manufacturers as well as the packing industry having a strong interest in the product. Dr. Kota and his group will continue to research the mechanical durability of this impactful technology and we look forward to sharing their progress in the coming months.