One very dry demo

Mark Shaw demos Ultra-Ever Dry, a liquid-repellent coating that acts as an astonishingly powerful shield against water and water-based materials. At the nano level, the spray covers a surface with an umbrella of air so that water bounces right off. Watch for an exciting two-minute kicker.

I'm here to show you how something you can't see can be so much fun to look at. You're about to experience a new, available and exciting technology that's going to make us rethink how we waterproof our lives.

What I have here is a cinder block that we've coated half with a nanotechnology spray that can be applied to almost any material. It's called Ultra-Ever Dry, and when you apply it to any material, it turns into a superhydrophobic shield. So this is a cinder block, uncoated, and you can see that it's porous, it absorbs water. Not anymore. Porous, nonporous.

So what's superhydrophobic? Superhydrophobic is how we measure a drop of water on a surface. The rounder it is, the more hydrophobic it is, and if it's really round, it's superhydrophobic. A freshly waxed car, the water molecules slump to about 90 degrees. A windshield coating is going to give you about 110 degrees. But what you're seeing here is 160 to 175 degrees, and anything over 150 is superhydrophobic. So as part of the demonstration, what I have is a pair of gloves, and we've coated one of the gloves with the nanotechnology coating, and let's see if you can tell which one, and I'll give you a hint.

Did you guess the one that was dry?

When you have nanotechnology and nanoscience, what's occurred is that we're able to now look at atoms and molecules and actually control them for great benefits. And we're talking really small here. The way you measure nanotechnology is in nanometers, and one nanometer is a billionth of a meter, and to put some scale to that, if you had a nanoparticle that was one nanometer thick, and you put it side by side, and you had 50,000 of them, you'd be the width of a human hair. So very small, but very useful.

And it's not just water that this works with. It's a lot of water-based materials like concrete, water-based paint, mud, and also some refined oils as well.

You can see the difference.

Moving onto the next demonstration, we've taken a pane of glass and we've coated the outside of it, we've framed it with the nanotechnology coating, and we're going to pour this green-tinted water inside the middle, and you're going to see, it's going to spread out on glass like you'd normally think it would, except when it hits the coating, it stops, and I can't even coax it to leave. It's that afraid of the water.


So what's going on here? What's happening? Well, the surface of the spray coating is actually filled with nanoparticles that form a very rough and craggly surface. You'd think it'd be smooth, but it's actually not. And it has billions of interstitial spaces, and those spaces, along with the nanoparticles, reach up and grab the air molecules, and cover the surface with air. It's an umbrella of air all across it, and that layer of air is what the water hits, the mud hits, the concrete hits, and it glides right off. So if I put this inside this water here, you can see a silver reflective coating around it, and that silver reflective coating is the layer of air that's protecting the water from touching the paddle, and it's dry.

So what are the applications? I mean, many of you right now are probably going through your head. Everyone that sees this gets excited, and says, "Oh, I could use it for this and this and this." The applications in a general sense could be anything that's anti-wetting. We've certainly seen that today. It could be anything that's anti-icing, because if you don't have water, you don't have ice. It could be anti-corrosion. No water, no corrosion. It could be anti-bacterial. Without water, the bacteria won't survive. And it could be things that need to be self-cleaning as well.

So imagine how something like this could help revolutionize your field of work. And I'm going to leave you with one last demonstration, but before I do that, I would like to say thank you, and think small. (Applause) It's going to happen. Wait for it. Wait for it.

Chris Anderson: You guys didn't hear about us cutting out the Design from TED? (Laughter)

[Two minutes later...]

He ran into all sorts of problems in terms of managing the medical research part. It's happening! (Applause)