Cambridge, Massachusetts -- An innovation that prevents ketchup sticking to the inside of bottles is being developed for potential use in industrial and medical applications that use thermoplastic polyurethane, according to BASF.
BASF has contributed 50% of a $3m (EUR2.7m) venture capital investment in SLIPS Technologies and entered a joint development agreement with the US-based startup to develop coated thermoplastics. SLIPS is an acronym for slippery liquid-infused porous surfaces.
The non-stick innovation was inspired by the slippery-ness of the carnivorous pitcher plant, said Joanna Aizenberg, a professor of materials science at Harvard’s Wyss Institute.
"Ants can move around [the plant] fine on a dry day," Aizenberg said.
"But when it’s wet, a layer of water coats the underlying solid causing the ants to hydroplane. The moment the ants step on the rim of the plant on a wet day, they just fly down the hill [into the plant] as if they’re on ice."
"Overall you create a liquid on top of a solid – a nice slippery liquid interface that protects your solid," she added. "We’re really nucleating a new and original type of materials science … It’s a system that shows very different properties from the liquid itself and the solid itself."
The creation of the new surface materials relies on a physical property called capillarity.
"Ants can move around it fine on a dry day," Aizenberg noted. "But when it’s wet, the plant locks in water; a layer of water coats the underlying solid causing the ants to hydroplane. The moment the ants step on the rim of the plant on a wet day, they just fly down the hill [into the plant] as if they’re on ice."
The innovation sprang from work at the Harvard University School of Engineering and Applied Sciences in Cambridge, Massachusetts and the Wyss Institute, the founder of which, Hansjorg Wyss, contributed the remaining 50% of the venture capital for the advancement of the technology.
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