“Never-sink” metals stays afloat in the water: even if a hole is made

According to foreign media reports, ultra-hydrophobic materials have good hydrophobic properties, its use is very wide, the reasons are very obvious and not so obvious. They prevent surface ice, make electronics waterproof, make boats more efficient, or prevent people from urinating in public.

“不会沉的金属” 能在水中保持漂浮状态:即便在上面打了个洞

Now, engineers have discovered a strange new use for ultra-hydrophobic materials — making “never-sink” metals that float on the water even if a hole in it is made.

Ultra-hydrophobic materials obtain their hydrophobic properties by intercepting air on complex surfaces, which make it difficult to attach water. Of course, air can also make objects buoyant, so the team began testing how to use ultra-hydrophobic materials to make objects float better.

“不会沉的金属” 能在水中保持漂浮状态:即便在上面打了个洞

Untreated structures (left) sink to the bottom and super-hydrophobic structures (right) float on top

To create this ultra-hydrophobic nature, the researchers used ultra-high-speed laser pulses to etch patterns on the metal surface on a microscale and nanoscale. This can intercept a large amount of air, so that the metal is both ultra-hydrophobic and buoyancy. The problem is that due to water friction, these complex surfaces end up wearing out to reduce the effectiveness of both properties.

In response, the researchers came up with a creative solution. They built two treated aluminum surfaces opposite and connected them through a small center bar. The distance between the two plates is, of course, carefully calculated to capture the maximum amount of air.

The team says the end result is that it’s hardly sinking. After two months of pressure, once the load above is removed, the metal can still bounce back to it immediately. Even if the surface damage is not to sink, the structures remain floating when the team drills six 3mm holes and a 6mm hole on it. Obviously, there is still enough air to stay in the rest of these structures.

“不会沉的金属” 能在水中保持漂浮状态:即便在上面打了个洞

Even when a hole is drilled, the metal, which does not sink, continues to float.

The researchers say the etching technique can be used essentially on any metal or other material, and the resulting non-sinking features may find a range of potential applications, such as ships and flotation equipment that can continue to float even after serious damage.

“不会沉的金属” 能在水中保持漂浮状态:即便在上面打了个洞

The study was carried out by scientists from the University of Rochester and the Institute of Optical Precision Machinery and Physics in Changchun, China. The study was published in ACS Applied Materials and Interfaces.

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