Slippery liquid-infused solid surfaces present a radically different approach to creating ice-repellent materials. State-of-the-art superhydrophobic surfaces frequently fail under high humidity, as the textures become coated with condensation and frost. The molecularly smooth liquid interface of SLIPS provides a comprehensive, integrated approach to ice prevention: the defect-free surface 1) enables incipient condensation droplets to slide off before they can freeze, 2) minimizes sites for ice nucleation, 3) ensures that free-sliding droplets freeze only in isolated patches rather than packed sheets, 4) minimizes ice adhesion, allowing frozen droplets to slide off under a small gravitational force, and 5) sheds droplets just as they start to thaw.
We have developed a technique for directly fabricating SLIPS on any metal surface, bringing SLIPS technology to refrigeration, aviation, marine vessels, wind turbines, wires, and many more metal-based applications. Aluminum (Al) in particular is widely used for cooling fins in heat exchangers and as a lightweight structural material, and we have demonstrated that SLIPS-coated Al surfaces not only suppress ice and frost accretion by efficiently removing condensed moisture even under high-humidity conditions, but also exhibit at least an order of magnitude lower ice adhesion than state-of-the-art anti-ice coatings. We are currently partnering with the refrigeration and aviation industries to develop new SLIPS-enabled, energy-efficient, and safe technologies.
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