NNU receives rare access to high-tech material
Very few people in the world have access to the superhydrophobic material being used by a team of NNU students performing research with NASA, according to team member Chad Larson.
Researcher Dr. John Simpson developed the material at the U.S. Department of Energy’s Oak Ridge National Laboratory, a lab managed by The University of Tennessee and Battelle Memorial Institute, the largest organization in the world conducting independent research. Dr. Simpson demonstrated the properties of the new material during a lecture at NNU this past October.
Excited, the students expressed an interest in using the material for their NASA project, and Dr. Simpson generously provided samples.
“We weren’t really sure if they would give it to us,” Chad said.
He noted that even NASA’s scientists have not yet worked with the material.
The nano-structured material is virtually “unwettable.” Even when fully submerged in water, the material maintains a microscopically thin layer of air between its surface and the liquid. Simpson calls this the “Moses Effect,” which he demonstrated during his NNU visit.
In addition to its hopeful benefits in outer space, the material could be used to increase the water-repellent qualities of everyday products like windshields, eyeglasses and clothing. It also could be used to make building materials, road surfaces and ship hulls.