Novel coating that repels just about anything receives R&D 100 Award

Published:  19 July, 2012

"SLIPS" technology, developed by the Harvard School of Engineering and Applied Sciences, repels almost every type of liquid and solid, from blood and crude oil to ice and bacteria.

The annual awards honor the 100 most technologically significant products of the previous year. The winning technology, called SLIPS (Slippery Liquid-Infused Porous Surfaces), was developed by a team of scientists led by Joanna Aizenberg, Amy Smith Berylson Professor of Materials Science at the Harvard School of Engineering and Applied Sciences (SEAS) and a Core Faculty Member at the Wyss Institute for Biologically Inspired Engineering at Harvard University.

“Some of the most extreme examples in biology can provide the most amazing and unexpected ideas, and what’s so significant about the pitcher plant is that it gives us a blueprint for a single surface that is capable of repelling any type of accumulated unwanted material,” said Aizenberg, who is also the Susan S. and Kenneth L. Wallach Professor at the Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study at Harvard University and Co-Director of the Kavli Institute for Bionano Science and Technology.

“In following its example, we should be able to develop a platform that works for almost any sticky problem, no matter how seemingly unrelated, whether it’s ice accumulation, bacterial attachment, environmental contamination, clogging of pipes, marine biofouling, or graffiti, rather than having to come up with a host of individual solutions.”

The R&D 100 Awards have long been a benchmark of excellence for diverse industry sectors. Since their inception in 1963, the awards have identified many promising technologies that have gone on to become household names. These game-changers include the flashcube (1965), the automated teller machine (1973), the fax machine (1975), the Nicoderm anti-smoking patch (1992), the lab on a chip (1996), and HDTV (1998).

"We are thrilled to see SLIPS recognized as a revolutionary discovery that can transform people’s daily lives,” said Wyss Founding Director Donald Ingber, M.D., Ph.D.

SLIPS was inspired by the slippery surface of the carnivorous pitcher plant, which enables the plant to capture insects. The technology was first described in the September 22, 2011, issue of the journal Nature.  Aizenberg is leading the research effort with support from Wyss Postdoctoral Fellow Tak-Sing Wong.

The novel, super-slippery surfaces can quickly repel liquids and solids and their complex mixtures. The surfaces show a unique ability to self-repair if damaged and to self-clean. The technology is effective in a range of harsh conditions, such as high pressure, extreme UV exposure, high acidity, and freezing temperatures, and SLIPS can be created on almost any surface, including glass, plastics, and metals. The coating itself is non-toxic and anti-corrosive.

SLIPS technology has the potential for high-impact applications in numerous areas, including biomedical fluid handling, fuel transport, and anti-fouling and anti-icing approaches. For example, SLIPS could prevent biofilm from forming on medical devices and keep ice from forming on railings, roofs, wires, signs, and airplane wings.

Winners of the R&D 100 Awards are selected by an independent judging panel and by the editors of R&D Magazine, which covers cutting-edge technologies and innovations for research scientists, engineers, and technical experts around the world. The winners will be recognized at the R&D 100 Awards Banquet in November 2012.

  • Operation Florian

Sign up: eMagazine & eNewsletter

The latest issues in your inbox.

Company Profiles

HazSim - Bringing situational HazMat training to life

HazSim, LLC provides innovative simulation training to ensure your team works safely and effectively. HazSim Pro simulation equipment is in use by hundreds of fire departments, training schools, industrial fire teams, and private trainers across the US, Canada and further afield as well as the US Army.

Revolutionizing fire fighting foam technology

The one-stop resource for fire fighting foam concentrates and custom-designed foam suppression systems hardware.

Advancing rescue technology

The specialist supplier of quality PPE and Rescue Equipment to Emergency Services.

The ultimate in innovation, quality and service

For 60 years Lehavot has been delivering the world’s most advanced fire detection and suppression automatic systems

Trust the best, let us be your foam solution

AUXQUIMIA is a Spanish company whose main activity is the design, manufacture and commercialization of firefighting foam concentrates.

Williams Fire & Hazard Control offers a full line of specialized fire response equipment for oil and gas platforms

From storage tanks and pipeline emergencies to offshore platforms and vessels at sea, Williams' response personnel and specialized equipment quickly address adverse fire emergencies.

Foam fights fire

Europe’s foremost fire fighting foam manufacturer has been developing and producing foams since the 1920s.

The leader in truck-mounted hydraulic platforms

Our mission is to provide the best and the safest solution to professionals that work at height.

The independent alternative

Dafo Fomtec AB is a privately owned company with head office in Stockholm Sweden and manufacturing in Helsingborg in the south of Sweden.

If you want quality, you want Zico

Since its inception Ziamatic Corp has provided the men and women of the fire service with products designed to make their jobs safer and easier.

Calendar