A Moment of Science

Superglass

While today's glass is definitely amazing stuff, it does have it's drawbacks. Will a new type of coating eliminate these problems in the future?

Glass skyscrapers against a partly cloudy sky

Photo: sakeeb (flickr)

Where would our civilization be without glass?

Glass is really a marvelous thing. It’s tough, transparent and impermeable to air and water. It’s also become an indispensable part of daily life across the globe.

Building A Better Coating

But glass also breaks easily and requires nearly constant cleaning. What if there were a type of glass that kept all of its good qualities but jettisoned the annoying stuff?

Thanks to a new coating developed by scientists at the Wyss Institute for Biologically Inspired Engineering at Harvard, glass may soon become stronger, self cleaning and slippery to the point of being able to repel even the stickiest of liquids.

The coating is based on a technology called Slippery Liquid Infused Porous Surfaces (SLIPS), which, in its turn, was inspired by the ultra-slippery leaves of carnivorous pitcher plants.

Transparent, Slick And Tough

The manufacturing process involves a honeycomb-like lattice upon which a liquid lubricant is poured. Because the honeycomb lattice doesn’t reflect visible light, glass coated with the material can remain completely transparent.

How well does this slippery stuff work? So far in the lab it’s proven more than able to repel not only water but also wine, olive oil and ketchup. It also greatly reduces icing, which could prove useful for things like airplane wings, power lines, cooling systems or even your car’s windshield.

Plus, the slippery coating is tough. It’s proven resistant to repeated touching, scratching, tape peeling and polishing.

Read More:

Stay Connected

What is RSS? RSS makes it possible to subscribe to a website's updates instead of visiting it by delivering new posts to your RSS reader automatically. Choose to receive some or all of the updates from A Moment of Science:

Support for Indiana Public Media Comes From

About A Moment of Science

Search A Moment of Science