An incredible new material from researchers at the University of Rochester is so good at repelling water that droplets literally bounce off the surface like basketballs.
What makes that even more impressive is that it's nota new material or chemical at all - it's a pattern etched into the metal's surface on the tiniest of scales.
This type of material is referred to as super-hydrophobic, and is created with laser patterning. Since the etching is part of the metal itself, it doesn't wear off like a chemical coating would.
The details of the research, led by Chunlei Guo and Anatoliy Vorobyev, were published in an academic paper yesterday.
One of the comparisons the researchers use is Teflon - a common chemical coating used in non-stick frying pans. And, quite simply, they believe there's zero comparison.
"The difference is that to make water to roll-off a Teflon coated material, you need to tilt the surface to nearly a 70-degree angle before the water begins to slide off. You can make water roll off Guo's metals by tilting them less than five degrees," the University of Rochester said.
The researchers say the technology could prevent icing on airplane wings, but has potential applications in sanitation for human waste - which is largely made up of water. Imagine, for example, a urinal made of this surface and you'll get the idea.
That could have huge benefits for sanitation in developing nations where water is at a premium, and cannot always be used for flushing - assuming, of course, that production costs are low enough. And it's that application that has prompted the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation to contribute to the research.
It's also supported by the United States Air Force, who see their own applications - likely in the high-altitude icing applications.
But for the moment, it's still a laboratory product. It takes the research team an hour to produce a 1-inch square of the material, and their next step is to increase the speed so it will be realistic to manufacture the material for widespread proposes.
Until then, we'll have to make do with our Teflon frying pans and water spots on our cars.
If you'd like to learn more about the process from the researchers themselves, they've recorded a three-minute overview video of the project.