Everyone knows that metal is a rather heavy class of substances which has a high density and (if we’re not talking about special alloys or superfine sheets like foil) is frequently lost in the water. However, researchers from the University of Rochester have managed to create metal that simply refuses to sink. Even if it is immersed under the water surface — it will float to the surface.
How to create a metal which does not sink in water
Responsible for the development of Professor of optics and physics at the University of Rochester of Conley and his team. To create a new material, the researchers used an innovative method, using femtosecond flashes of laser to “etch” the surface of metals. That is a very fast and intense flashes of lasers create on the metal surface micro – and nanoscale patterns by changing the structure of matter. Due to this surface layer of metal can capture the air and hold it, making the metal surface “superhydrophobic” or, simply, waterproof.
Such an approach could lead to the creation of unsinkable ships. Or to the development of electronic devices, which are not enough to float to the surface, and are almost completely waterproof. says Professor of Chunlei Go.
However, during the tests, the researchers found that after prolonged immersion in water the surface can start to lose its hydrophobic properties. And then attracted the attention of scientists…spiders and ants.
For example, water spiders Argyroneta create an underwater dome-shaped web, the so—called diving bell, which they fill with air that they are shifting from the surface on their legs and abdomen. The same way some species of ants are able to form a “water bubble” hold on the body surface air bubbles.
This is a very interesting natural phenomenon, the researchers said. The key in this case is the fact that superhydrophobic (SH) surfaces can capture large volume of air, which indicates the possibility of the use of SH surfaces to create floating devices.
In the end, a team of scientists has developed a structure in which two metal plates just like previously covered the tiny “patterns”. Only here put these plates on each other, drawing a “figure” inside. Between the plates was enough space to capture and retain air, which gave the metal structure to sink.
While superhydrophobic structure remains afloat even after significant structural damage. In the experiment, the scientists made in the plates 6 holes with a diameter of 3 mm and one hole with a diameter of 6 millimeters. Plates continued to float on the water surface.
A team of scientists argues that a similar process can be applied for modification of all types of metals. When experts first experienced the new technology, it took them one hour to modify the area of metal measuring 2.5 by 2.5 centimeters. Now, using lasers seven times more powerful, the process is greatly accelerated and in General, according to the developers, “the technology is ready for commercial application”.