If researchers at the US Department of Energy’s Brookhaven National Laboratory have their way, the cooking-ware in your kitchen will shed its Teflon coating. In its place, “nanobubbles” will make sure that your eggs don’t stick to the pan.
While materials have previously been made "non-stick" by covering them with water-repellant coatings, like Teflon, nanobubbles achieve the same non-stick properties due to a change in the texture of the surface itself. So what exactly is a nanobubble?
They form on surfaces dotted by tiny holes about 100 nanometers deep, which are created by the scientists. (For perspective, 100 nanometers is about one thousand times smaller than the width of a single human hair!) When the surface is exposed to water, the water can only enter the first 5-10 nanometers of these pits. This leaves air-filled spaces at the bottom of the pits: the nanobubbles.
These air-filled bubbles decrease the amount of surface that is in contact with the water, which makes the surface even more water-repellant than other techniques. With more research, nanobubble surfaces can be made effective for other non-stick purposes. Surprisingly, the kitchen of the future might not be as technologically advanced as the Jetson’s space home. Instead, a bunch of holes might revolutionize the way we cook.
- blog authored by Alex Gast