Under deep-freezing conditions the technology can prevent ice accumulation for a longer time, reducing the amount of ice and alleviating the effect of adhesion as the ice easily slides off the metal surface.
Called SLIP, short for Slippery Liquid Infused Porous Surfaces, the Harvard researchers have come up with an ice-repellent, non-toxic coating that has a defect-free, molecularly flat liquid interface and is immobilized using a hidden nano-structured solid that keeps the liquid in place. According to the scientists, the liquid can be applied to a range of different products, including airplane wings, roofing, railings, or cooling fins.
"This new approach to icephobic materials is a truly disruptive idea that offers a way to make a transformative impact on energy and safety costs associated with ice, and we are actively working with the refrigeration and aviation industries to bring it to market," said Joanna Aizenberg, professor of materials science at the Harvard School of Engineering and Applied Sciences.
The icephobic coating is believed to be extremely effective especially in environments with substantial humidity. On airplane wings or roofs, ice buildup that could occur under extreme conditions could simply slide off by tilting a structure or via "slight agitation," vibration or wind.