They call it a superomniphobic tape.

This is a superomniphobic tape that adheres to any surface and imparts liquid-repellant properties to it. Image credits: Colorado State University.

Superomniphobic surfaces repel all liquids. They generally feature an air cushion which lies between a liquid and a solid surface. Now, Arun Kota, assistant professor of mechanical engineering at Colorado State University has made a surface which can adhere to anything, giving it strong liquid-repelling properties.

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The concept isn’t completely new, as researchers have been working in the field since 2007. However, this time it’s different. Kota’s breakthrough is notable not only in terms of overall efficiency, but especially in terms of the method through which the surface was developed. Previously, superomniphobic surfaces were extremely complex and very expensive and could only be created by trained professionals. But now, with doctoral student Hamed Vahabi and postdoctoral fellow Wei Wang, Kota developed a relatively simple technique through which this can be achieved – and anyone can do it.

The potential for this is huge. You can use it on smartphone screens, glasses, and cameras to avoid rain or water damage. You can also use it in the medical industry, and even in the food industry – to make sure that you can get every last bit from that ketchup bottle, for example. The potential for this is truly endless, but it all relies on two factors: price and durability.

This research mostly targets price and the ease with which such a surface can be developed. However, in terms of durability, achieving the desired outcome is still a challenge.

Kota and others working in the field definitely have a lot on their hands, but for now, they already have a few interested customers: the packaging industry, which doesn’t really need durable products – just cheap and efficient.