Tape sticks to almost any surface, repels any liquid

The superomniphobic tape can be applied to a wide variety of materials, including those with irregular surfaces.(Credit: Colorado State University)

There are already processes that allow materials to become superomniphobic (repellant to liquids including oils), by altering their surfaces in such a way that a thin layer of air gets trapped between the material and any liquid that's placed upon it. Typically, however, these technologies require the surfaces in question to be treated by trained personnel using specialized equipment. Wouldn't it be easier if there was just a superomniphobic tape one could apply? Well, now there is.

The tape was developed at Colorado State University by assistant professor Arun Kota, doctoral student Hamed Vahabi and postdoctoral fellow Wei Wang.

It consists of a flexible layer of adhesive-backed polyurethane, coated on top with a layer of tiny fluorinated silica particles. Due to the structure, texture and low solid surface energy of that silica layer, liquid isn't able to get down between the particles. This creates the layer of air, which causes liquids to simply bead up and roll off the tape.

According to the university, the tape can be applied to a wide variety of materials, including those with irregular surfaces. It could conceivably be used to increase those materials' corrosion resistance, to make them self-cleaning, to reduce hydrodynamic drag, or to reduce waste.

In its present form, however, the tape isn't mechanically durable enough to withstand harsh and abrasive environments. The scientists are therefore continuing to develop it, with an eye toward commercialization.

A paper on the research was recently published in the journal Applied Materials & Interfaces.

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