We've already seen lubricant-infused coatings that repel virtually all substances – such coatings could be used to keep airplane wings ice-free, or to stop bacteria from accumulating in kitchens. However, what if you want to repel all substances except one? Well, Canadian scientists have now got that covered.

Led by Dr. Tohid Didar, a team at McMaster University has created a surface coating that is capable of absorbing a single "target" substance, while causing all others to roll off. Like the previously-developed coatings that repel all substances, this one also incorporates a lubricant, but there's a special added ingredient.

"We immobilize a very thin layer of an FDA approved lubricant on the surface (thinner than the human hair) and attach some specific bio molecules to this thin lubricant layer that specifically bind to our target species," Didar tells us. "So the lubricant repels everything and the biomolecules capture the target species."

Among other things, the coating could potentially be used on medical implants – it would reduce the risk of clot-formation and infection by repelling blood cells and bacteria (along with just about everything else), while simultaneously adhering to muscle, organ or bone cells in order to boost integration and thus lessen the chances of rejection.

The technology could also simplify the testing of bodily fluids such as blood or urine, absorbing only targeted viruses, bacteria or cells.

A paper on the research was recently published in the journal ACS Nano.