The Sciences

That Word You Heard: Superhydrophobic

It's the key to getting every last drop.

By Lacy SchleyMar 10, 2017 12:00 AM
Superhydrophobic Art - Chad Edwards DSC-CR0417_08.jpg
(Credit: Chad Edwards)

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Though it might tempt you to break out into a Mary Poppins song, superhydrophobic has nothing to do with dancing penguins or carousels come to life. The term refers to a material’s ability to repel water. When water droplets hit surfaces with this property, they don’t flatten like they normally would — they bead up, often contacting the surface at angles exceeding 150 degrees, and roll off. You can see this phenomenon in nature when water falls onto a lotus leaf. Outside of nature, researchers are applying superhydrophobic coatings to the interiors of food containers, like bottles of honey and soda cans, to get out every last drop and cut down on food waste.

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