Researchers from the University of Rochester presented a new piece of
metal that does not sink into the water, since it has the ability to stay afloat like plastic or wood, even when the material was perforated. Even at a stage of development, this material could be used not only to make boats, but also to produce floating cities and even for self-cleaning latrines.
The key to this new material is the small grooves carved with a laser, a design inspired by the structures created by spiders and ants. This mode allows to capture small air bubbles that repel water and let the liquid slide along the surface of the metal. The researchers combined two pieces with the carved surface to create an air bubble that allows to keep this small structure afloat.
A demonstration of the unsinkable metal part
The water-repellent superhydrophobic system, as the researchers called it, could once again remain afloat when it was forced to be submerged for months. Even during the tests performed, the piece maintained its properties despite being drilled.
One of the main applications that this material could have is aimed at lifeboats, floating devices and even larger vessels, such as boats and sailboats. "The larger the area used by the repellent metal, the greater its carrying capacity," said Chunlei Guo, head of research at the University of Rochester,
cited by Business Insider.
One of its practical applications also applies to the use of latrines, since the metal repellent properties allow very little water to be used to maintain surface cleanliness. These types of features called the attention of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, which plan to use these types of metals to develop the
new generation of toilets for developing countries.