Innovation That Matters

Nano-enoki material | Photo source University of Pittsburgh’s Swanson School of Engineering

Mushroom-inspired, waterproof coating opens up possibilities


Researchers have developed a flexible waterproof substance made of nanostructures shaped like mushrooms

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Spotted: The ability to use some types of technology, such as solar panels, can be limited by the need to coat them in a material that can repel dirt and water, while also letting light through. However, these water-proofing materials tend to be rigid, which limits the ability to incorporate the technology into flexible applications like clothing or furnishings.

Now, researchers from the University of Pittsburgh’s Swanson School of Engineering have developed a flexible coating material, inspired by the Enoki mushroom.

The researchers created a coating out of polyethylene terephthalate (PET). The coating contains nanostructures shaped like Enoki mushrooms, with long, thin stalks and larger caps. The shape keeps liquid on top of the nanostructure, and also makes the coating highly transparent. The research was published in the Journal of Materials Chemistry A.

In addition to the high transparency, the coating also has a high haze factor, which means that light is scattered as it penetrates the coating. This makes the coating ideal for use in creating flexible solar cells or LEDs. In tests, the coating had no trouble completely shedding substances that usually stain and leave residue behind, such as mustard and coffee.




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