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Technology Science

New Nanotech Fabric Never Gets Wet 231

holy_calamity writes "New Scientist reports on a simple coating for polyester that renders it unwettable — even after two months underwater it emerges dry to the touch. Water cannot attach to the new fabric thanks to nanostructured filaments and a structure that traps a constant air layer. One potential use is for low-drag swim wear."
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New Nanotech Fabric Never Gets Wet

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  • by beh ( 4759 ) * on Tuesday November 25, 2008 @10:10AM (#25886131)

    Water can't penetrate it - that means, rain stays outside... Good idea...

    But it also means, all your sweat stays INSIDE... BAD idea...
    I don't even want to know how soaked I'd feel after cycling for half an hour wearing a 'rain-coat' like that to keep me 'dry'!

  • funny but. (Score:5, Interesting)

    by LWATCDR ( 28044 ) on Tuesday November 25, 2008 @10:14AM (#25886197) Homepage Journal

    I was wondering if it could be used for Ships to lower their drag, or to line the inside of pipes.
    Not the fabric mind you but the coating.

  • In reference to this article I would like to direct readers to the movie "The man in the white suit" [wikipedia.org] to learn more about the dangers of creating nanotech clothing.

  • by nobodylocalhost ( 1343981 ) on Tuesday November 25, 2008 @10:23AM (#25886321)

    i wonder if they tested this in oil. if it is both water resistant and oil resistant, it would make a very good material for table cloths, chair cover, couch cover, pillow cover, etc.

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by HexaByte ( 817350 )
      Not table cloths! I agree with the others, but in most cases (I have young kids) I want a spill to be absorbed down to a non-porous backing. That way when the milk/juice/water spills, it doesn't spread it everywhere else on the table, getting everything else wet. Especially my laptop!
  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday November 25, 2008 @10:23AM (#25886337)

    This stuff would be great under roofing tiles/shingles. This has FAR more uses than clothing.

  • by Leafheart ( 1120885 ) on Tuesday November 25, 2008 @10:28AM (#25886399)

    There are many important places where we can use it, besides gain an edge on competitive sports (yeah, I know, money talks).

    • If the coating can be used on anything else, I say we have a pretty serious application on anything that deals with salty water.
    • Still on the topic of swimming, how good it is the thermal isolation on this things? Can it be made to better diving suits?
    • Ship sails that do not get wet.
    • Protective clothes and other fabric for people on icy\snowy places. Specially mountaineers and the guys down at Antarctica.
    • Is it only water or any liquid? I mean, can I spray alcohol and it won't stick? What about mud? Will it only be the earth particles on the cloth and the liquid will pour off?
    • I've not RTFA but my guess is that this will only work water. It's not like PTFE (Teflon) which is almost inert it's a nano-material that traps a layer of air. The water probably can't wet the fabric due to surface tension. Most liquids have very low surface tensions so would be able to wet the fabric. Water is rather unique in having a high surface tension due to extensive hydrogen bonding.

  • Swimwear? Seriously? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Taibhsear ( 1286214 ) on Tuesday November 25, 2008 @10:37AM (#25886541)

    Talk about setting the bar low. What about skins for submersible craft. Stealth sub tech? I find it odd that, on /. of all places, the first thought to implement badass new technology is on sports...

    • by kat_skan ( 5219 )

      Indeed. This technology has vastly more important applications for making really cool videos and putting them on YouTube [youtube.com].

    • by fotbr ( 855184 )

      You'd rather continue the stereotype of war-mongering Americans?

      My first thought was applying the coating to ropes, since I enjoy sailing. If the ropes won't get wet, they won't rot as easily, and might be easier to handle.

      Besides, as far as submarines are concerned, stealth comes from being quiet. Don't see how this would do much to help absorb noise. It might help with speed, but probably not a whole lot. Low drag is a lot more beneficial when you've only got one human-power moving you, compared to a

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by Taibhsear ( 1286214 )

        You'd rather continue the stereotype of war-mongering Americans?

        Who said anything about war or weapons? Subs can be used for recon, science, rescue, etc. Cutting down drag can increase speed, engine efficiency, and decrease noise. Hard to find neat new sea critters when they hear you miles away. Hell, maybe even coat the propellers on large ships.

    • I know right? (Score:3, Interesting)

      by hellfire ( 86129 )

      Hell the first thing I thought of wasn't sports, but safety. Is this something you can make work clothes out of so that if you work on a boat or pier, if you fall in, can it be made so your clothes don't absorb water and make it harder for you to swim to safety. If the water doesn't get absorbed, you could put a layer of insulation underneath it to help stay warm in cold water to help defend you from hypothermia.

      But obviously the money is in selling a swimmer a $10,000 swimsuit so they can shave .02 secon

    • Why not a swimsuit? People are already paying $550 US for a high tech swimsuit [speedousa.com]. Plus, making world record setting sports technology is a good way to market your product, even to other applications.

      Also, swimsuits aren't life or death equipment meaning they won't require as much testing, adding this material doesn't require a redesign of the whole suit, the amount of material needed is very small, they don't require environmental impact studies (as boat coatings would), etc.
    • If this stuff costs thousands of dollars per square yard it would be financially viable for swimsuits and other items that use smaller amounts. A single win as a swimsuit would probably pay for itself in endorsements. However it would quickly become economically unsound for large items. It's probably not worth hundreds of millions of dollars to coat a sub with it.

    • The cold war is over, no one is interested in the best military equipment, price rules. The stealthy Seawolf subs got cancelled in favour of the cheaper Virginias.

  • by marquis111 ( 94760 ) on Tuesday November 25, 2008 @10:39AM (#25886587)

    Reminds me of what the Fremen used to coat their underwater water stores.

    I wonder what new and strange water behavior could be observed in a container lined in this. Would there be a meniscus -- either convex or concave -- when water was put into it? Or would the water huddle nervously in the middle, unsure of what do with itself?

  • I think men around the world are already lining up for the chance to pee on this stuff....

    On a somewhat serious note, though, this stuff sounds like the perfect lining for urinals!

  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday November 25, 2008 @11:02AM (#25886895)

    Does the water get it instead?
    Nobody knows.
    Particle Man.

  • ...of photo-icons which appear on these stories! Poor Einstein looks like he's going to get seriously injured by a falling motherboard. As far as this cloth goes, I don't see that it is necessarily stated that the it prevents water from permeating, just that the cloth itself doesn't get wet.
  • How about soapy water?

  • a pocket protector and a parrot tie, and you're all set for an interview

  • One potential use is for low-drag swim wear.

    Yeah, it's a real drag having to get wet when going for a swim.

  • old news. but cool! (Score:5, Informative)

    by famebait ( 450028 ) on Tuesday November 25, 2008 @11:25AM (#25887269)

    Superhydrophobic surfaces and textile coverings have been around for a little while.
    The news here is the one-step solvent-free process,
    which will make industrialization a lot cheaper.

    Youtube has lots on "superhydrophobic" and "nanotech fabric/textile"

    Here's a cool demo: they sink a white sofa into a read bath, and pull it out again spotless:
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3ytrQs1B5QY [youtube.com]

  • All this work all they need to do is Render it Pink and put a SEP field around it.

  • ...on the towels in public restrooms?

  • Knit some of this stuff over top of a submarine shell, and you should get incredible speed improvements. Anyone need a nano-submarine sweater?
  • Hmph (Score:2, Funny)

    by ewhac ( 5844 )
    This is nothing new. It sounds like the napkins in half the restaurants I visit.

    :-),
    Schwab

  • Polyester leisure suits have been keeping women dry for years.

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