In an advance toward stain-proof, spill-proof clothing, protective garments and other products that shrug off virtually every liquid — from blood and ketchup to concentrated acids — scientists are reporting development of new “superomniphobic” surfaces. Their report on surfaces that display extreme repellency to two families of liquids — Newtonian and non-Newtonian liquids — appears in the Journal of the American Chemical Society.
Anish Tuteja and colleagues point out that scientists have previously reported “omniphobic” surfaces, the term meaning that such surfaces can cause a range of different liquids to bead up and not spread on them. But typically very low surface tension liquids such as some oils and alcohols can adhere to those surfaces. Further, scientists have mostly focused on making surfaces that repel only one of the two families of liquids — Newtonian liquids, named for the great English scientist who described how they flow. Tuteja’s team set out to do the same for non-Newtonian liquids, which include blood, yogurt, gravy, various polymer solutions and a range of other liquids.