- Apr 4, 2008
University of Wisconsin-Madison researchers, working with Bell Laboratories, have invented a new nano-structure that is not only able to repel almost any liquid in its normal state, but can also reverse that ability on command. A simple jolt of electricity changes the behavior of the material from liquid-repelling to "wettable", allowing the liquid to slip past the tiny silicon "nail" heads.

Because of this controllable feature, according to the University website, the new material "could find use in biomedical applications such as "lab-on-a-chip" technology, the manufacture of self-cleaning surfaces, and could help extend the working life of batteries as a way to turn them off when not in use."

This technology could potentially improve the performance of many types of consumer products such as cell phones, lap tops, and even hybrid or electric vehicles, all of which are limited in some way by battery life.