No More Thumbprints

Having created the materials, the researchers then studied the details of what makes them work. As a result, the researchers were able to outline ways to make super oil-repellant structures, describing what sort of chemical properties, combined with what kind of microscopic shapes, are necessary to create them. They described how the liquid interacts with the surface of a material, and how this changes according to the structure of the surface and the presence of air.

Using these rules, the researchers were able to tune the properties of the material. In one example, they were able to make the materials repel water but not oil--something that could be useful for filtering water out of fuel (see this video). By following these rules, researchers may be able to develop even better materials that are more oil repellant, cheaper to make, and even transparent. The last feature could lead to a number of applications, including self-cleaning displays--something that cell-phone manufacturers have been working on for years.

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