Researchers Develop Spray-On Omniphobic Coating
Researchers at the Okanagan Polymer Engineering Research and Applications Lab (OPERA), at the University of British Columbia Okanagan, have reportedly developed a coating that researchers say repels nearly all substances off a surface.
The spray-on solution aims to make any surface omniphobic, according to master’s student Behrooz Khatir, the author of a recent study on the project.
“Omniphobic—all-liquid repellent—films can repel a broad range of liquids, but the applicability of these coatings has always been limited to silicon wafers or smooth glass,” said Khatir. “This new formulation can coat and protect just about any surface, including metals, paper, ceramics and even plastics.”
The two-layer coating involves placing an ultra-smooth silica layer on a surface and then functionalizing this layer with a highly reactive silicone to block all kinds of liquids from sticking on the surface, said Kevin Golovin, assistant professor at OPERA.
The researchers note that in addition to its versatility, the coating is also durable, able to withstand exposures to UV light, acids and high temperatures.
Golovin recently received COVID-19 funding from the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council to optimize the coating for healthcare face shields.
“This technology has many applications, but we are currently focused on providing a solution that will keep our nurses and doctors safe and effective,” said Golovin. “This new coating will prevent droplets or microbes from sticking to a face shield. This makes disinfecting face shields feasible just with water rather than requiring complex disinfectant procedures.”
The research was recently published in the ACS Applied Materials & Interfaces journal.
Anti-microbial and anti-viral coatings have been at the forefront of R&D in recent months, along with finding new ways to keep face masks and other personal protective equipment clean.
Most recently, researchers at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, along with Brigham and Women’s Hospital, have reportedly designed a new face mask that they believe could stop viral particles as effectively as N95 masks.
According to MIT, the new masks are designed to be easily sterilized and reused many times.
The new mask prototype is made of durable silicone rubber that can be manufactured using injection molding, which is a widely used technique.