Aircraft, Airport, Aircraft Specification

Hydrophobic Surface for Airplane Wings

Hydrophobic Surface for Airplane Wings

Researchers at the Brigham Young University have created a unique super-hydrophobic surface that makes water droplets bounce like a ball & roll down the surface. The mechanical engineering professor, Julie Crockett said that it is not possible to create this unique super-hydrophobic surface just with a coating of Teflon or wax and it has to be specially structured to work effectively. Some elements in nature like lotus leaves are able to do this extremely well. Thus, they took some inspiration from these leaves and did something similar in the lab. They created structures that stave-off water that sits on them.

Time for a Change

The current waterproofing methods include spraying surfaces with a certain coating. However over a period of time, that layer wears off and actually increases water damage risk. The innovative technique that has been devised by these ingenious Utah researchers now attempts to make some objects such as shoes and gadgets, permanently waterproof. This technique involves adding miniature tiny structures to the product surfaces which make the material water- resistant. The researchers now claim that this particular technique might one day be utilized to protect planes and boats.

The Technology

Crockett also said that these super-hydrophobic surfaces can be effectively created in different ways. In this instance the team made use of micro posts & surfaces with cavities and ribs. When water droplets fall onto this super-hydrophobic surface, they just expand like normal typical droplets. However these special structures make the liquid gather and it rolls down the surface. Crockett added that the technology also causes the water molecules to get attracted to each other, rather than just to the super-hydrophobic surface. Resultantly, the droplets unite as soon as they fall even before they begin rolling down the surface.

Planes with Water-Proof Wings

Planes fly at very high altitudes and in inclement weather too. Just imagine this technology being used on all aircraft- it would provide a water-resistant quality to the surface which will add to the longevity of the material. Researchers are saying that apart from airplanes, this surface can be effectively applied to solar panels and showers, tubs & toilets to prevent formation of any water marks. It can also be used in bio-medical devices such as the insides of tube or syringes and hulls of ships as well as the exterior of torpedoes or submarines. Apart from providing airplane wings with a water-resistant coating, this surface might also be use in the generation of efficient energy.

Naturally Ingenious

Aircraft engines are prone to icing over in extremely cold climates and this hydrophobic surface can prevent that from occurring. And so, a humble lotus leaf which was considered to be the gold standard for being able to stay dry in nature has provided inspiration that will create technology that can fly the skies. Of course this is not the first time that the lotus leaf has been emulated but now the applications of this technology are expanding. Some scientists are saying that they should now be copying nasturtiums and butterflies. What will the world of science devise next?

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