Everyone knows metals are pretty heavya class of substances that has a high density and (if we are not talking about special alloys or ultrafine sheets like foil) often sinks in water. However, researchers from the University of Rochester were able to create metal that simply refuses to sink. Even if it is specially submerged under a water surface - it will float to the surface.
How to create a metal that does not sink in water
The professor of the Department of Optics andUniversity of Rochester Physics Chunlei Guo and his team. To create a new material, researchers used an innovative method that uses femtosecond laser flashes to “etch” the surface of metals. That is, very fast and intense flashes of lasers create micro- and nanoscale patterns on the metal surface, changing the structure of the substance. Due to this, the surface layer of the metal can trap air and hold it, which makes the surface of the metal "superhydrophobic" or, quite simply, water repellent.
A similar approach could lead tounsinkable ships. Or, to the development of electronic devices that will not only float on the surface, they will also be almost completely waterproof. - says Professor Chunlei Guo.
However, during the tests, the researchers found that after prolonged immersion in water, surfaces can begin to lose their hydrophobic properties. And then the attention of scientists attracted ... spiders and ants.
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For example, Argyroneta waterfowl spiders createan underwater domed web - the so-called diving bell, which they fill with air, which they carry from the surface on their legs and abdomen. In exactly the same way, some species of ants are able to form a “water bubble” by holding air bubbles on the surface of the body.
This is a very interesting natural phenomenon, -researchers say. The key in this case is that superhydrophobic (SH) surfaces can capture a large amount of air, which indicates the possibility of using SH-surfaces to create floating devices.
As a result, a team of scientists developed a structure inin which two metal plates are coated with tiny “patterns” just like before. Only now they put these plates on top of each other, drawing the "pattern" inward. There was enough space between the plates to capture and hold air, which did not allow the metal structure to sink. What do you think of the new development? Share your opinion in our telegram chat.
In this case, the superhydrophobic structure remains onafloat even after significant structural damage. As part of the experiment, scientists made 6 holes in the plates with a diameter of 3 millimeters and one hole with a diameter of 6 millimeters. The plates continued to float on the surface of the water.
A team of scientists argues a similar process maybe used to modify all types of metals. When experts first tested the new technology, it took them one hour to modify the area of the metal measuring 2.5 by 2.5 centimeters. Now, using lasers seven times more powerful, the process has accelerated significantly and in general, according to the developers, "the technology is ready for commercial use."