Trampolining Water Droplets Leap Higher with Every Jump (VIDEO)

First Posted: Nov 09, 2015 08:17 AM EST

Super water-repellent materials are huge when it comes to the aviation industry and other technical applications. Now, researchers have found out how to specifically design the rigid surfaces of these materials by teaching water droplets how to trampoline.

In this latest study, the researchers studied the behavior of water droplets on surfaces by placing a droplet measuring one millimeter in size on a specially treated rigid silicon surface and then continuously reducing the air pressure in the experimental chamber, with a high-speed camera filming the droplet.

At first, the droplet rested motionless on the surface. By at around the twentieth of normal atmospheric pressure, it jumped up and down, each time jumping higher than before.

To understand where the force was coming from, the scientists performed a detailed analysis of the droplet's motion, using a thermal imaging camera. The scientists found that the combination of natural water evaporation and the microstructure of the material's surface are essential for the trampolining phenomenon.

The crux of the matter, though, lies in the surface itself. It needs to be rough so that the droplet doesn't stick to it. However, it also must not be too roughly since otherwise the water vapor would escape too quickly through the pores and cracks of the surface.

"From the results of our research we can deduce what qualities surfaces need to have in genera in order for them to violently repel water and ice, and then design them accordingly," said Dimos Poulikakos, one of the researchers, in a news release.

The findings could be huge when it comes to designing materials that are super water repellent. This could help prevent the necessity of de-icing airplane wings and create ice-free power lines.

The findings are published in the journal Nature.

Want to learn more? Check out the video below, courtesy of YouTube.

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