These are just a few of the possibilities envisioned by a Florida State University researcher who is developing processes for applying such coatings.
Joseph B. Schlenoff, a professor in FSU's department of chemistry and biochemistry and associate director of its Center for Materials Research and Technology (MARTECH), has worked for more than eight years to develop ultrathin films that repel water and other corrosive substances.
"When you wax your car, water tends to bead up on the surface in small droplets," Schlenoff said. "But when one of these films is applied, water virtually flies off. That's because the films are 'superhydrophobic,' and water droplets ride over them."
The key to creating such films lies in a layering process that Schlenoff has patented.
"Essentially, we place layers of positively and negatively charged electrolytes atop one another," he said. "Their electrical charges cancel each other out, creating a neutrally charged, ultrathin film. The protective seal that is created by such films is much more effective than paints or resins alone at repelling corrosive substances, such as salt or water."
Naresh Dalal, chairman of FSU's department of chemistry and biochemistry, said that other researchers have created methods for producing multilayer films, but that Schlenoff's process is particularly simple -- and relatively inexpensive to reproduce. "The potential applications for this technology are staggering," he said.
Consider these possibilities: