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We’ve seen lots of hydrophobic materials before, but these water- and liquid-repelling materials often work within constraints. Some liquids bounce or wick away, while others--based on properties like viscosity or surface tension, or whether the substance in questions is organic or inorganic--are not affected by the hydrophobic qualities of the material. But a team of University of Michigan materials science is reporting a breakthrough that could have big implications for everything from stain-free clothing to protective surface coatings and chemical resistant protective suits: a superomniphobic coating that is resistant to pretty much any liquid we know of.

The coating is derived from an electrospun coating that is carefully structured in a cross-linked pattern that essentially makes it impervious to attack from any contact angle, and that’s really the critical piece to this. We’ve seen superhydrophobic surfaces before that are extremely adept at repelling high surface tension liquids like water. And we’ve seen what are known as superoleophobic materials that are repellant toward low surface tension liquids.

But superomniphobic surfaces have been more elusive. In laboratory settings they’ve been developed for resistance to Newtonian fluids, but the U. of Michigan teams claim that their material is the first that is truly supermniphobic in the sense that any liquid you throw at it--organic or inorganic, high surface tension or low surface tension, Newtonian or non-Newtonian (repellant to ketchup!)--will bounce or roll off.

More details on the new "superomniphobic" coating breakthrough. Hypothermia may become a thing of the past. And that's a big deal for anyone who lives, works, and recreates in hostile climates. Can't wait to get my hands on an outdoor garment coated with this material!  To read more, click here.
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