Hitting metals with a laser to make the metals turn black doesn’t sound very sexy. But for Dr. Chunlei Guo, a professor of optics at the University of Rochester, it’s normal research. The ability to turn something dead black, which will thus absorb all light, is of optical interest.
However, Guo discovered something else could be done with these tools. By using a laser to etch microscopic patterns into the surface of the metal, he found that water was super-attracted to the surface—it just gets sucked onto it, as you’ll see in the video below. Curious to see if he could create an opposite effect, Guo then managed to laser-etch the metal such that water could not stick to it. “The material is so strongly water-repellent, the water actually gets bounced off. Then it lands on the surface again, gets bounced off again, and then it will just roll off from the surface,” Guo explains.
Unlike a Teflon coating, Guo’s technique means the metal itself is actually rendered super-hydrophobic, no coating required. This means Guo’s treatment cannot be rubbed or worn off. And while dust and dirt can still stick to the surface, a droplet of water rolling across it will pick it all up, like the ball in Katamari Damacy. The result is super-easy-to-clean surfaces.
Check out the video here