Nanoscientists create anti-ice coating

15 June 2012

Posted by Satvir Bhullar

A new coating that could have a wide range of applications in areas such as shipping and heavy engineering has been created.

Devised by a team of nanoscientists from Harvard University, the innovation can be used to treat metal surfaces so that ice and frost will not adhere to them.

The experts claim the ultra-slippery coating means surfaces shed even tiny droplets or specks of frost as a result of gravity, with any ice forming simply sliding off.

According to the team, the anti-ice and anti-frost nanotechnology discovery has a range of potential applications, including marine vessels, roofs, wires, planes, buildings, civil engineering, wind turbines and refrigeration systems.

It is reported in the latest issue of ACS Nano and Professor Joanna Aizenberg of the Harvard School of Engineering and Applied Sciences explained: "This new approach to icephobic materials is a truly disruptive idea that offers a way to make a transformative impact on energy and safety costs associated with ice, and we are actively working with the refrigeration and aviation industries to bring it to market."

The non-toxic and anti-corrosive coating, dubbed SLIPS (Slippery Liquid Infused Porous Surfaces), can be sculpted to lock into a lubricant and applied over a large scale.

A further nanotechnology breakthrough has been reported by experts from Stanford University, who have developed a new carbon nanotube material that could have a significant effect on the future of fuel cells.

Writing in the journal Nature Nanotechnology, the team noted the technique could provide a low-cost alternative to using expensive platinum catalysts in cells and metal-air batteries, making it possible to develop large-scale production of such sources.

Researchers found a way of "unzipping" multi-walled carbon nanotubes in order to provide a practical ways of solving a major obstacle to wider development of fuel cell technology.

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