MOMATERIALS RESEARCH WITH LIQUIDS: A team at MIT developed a new polymer coating that draws droplets into nanopores and transforms them into a transparent sheet, improving vision. MIT's new coating is "superhydrophilic": it really loves water. It's made of a three-dimensional matrix of water-loving polymer chains mixed in with glass nanoparticles and tiny air bubbles. The edges of the tiny glass particles come in contact with many droplets of water and the water droplets flatten and join up to form sheets. The glass nanoparticles and air bubbles also can act like the holes in a sponge, sucking the droplets downward to wick away water. In another study, Materials scientists at Purdue University developed a clear coating that can be applied to a washable, nonporous surface and eliminate the need to use soap to clean it off. The coating is simply sprayed on, and when a substance like oil comes into contract with the surface, it responds accordingly to repel the oil and make it easier to remove. Add some water, and the surface rinses clean without soap.
MATERIAL ISSUES: Materials science is the study of stuff -- the substances that make up things you use every day-- from your shoes, dishes, CDs, or your bicycle or skateboard. All are made from different kinds of materials. Materials derive their unique properties from atomic structure so materials scientists can manipulate atoms and molecules to design new kinds of stuff with different properties. Researchers' creations could show up in the nifty gadgets, clothing and kitchenware of tomorrow.