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Scientists have developed a laser material processing method to produce textured surfaces that repel dirt and water. This technology will primarily be used in the aerospace industry.
The use of coatings that mimic the lotus plant, whose leaves have self-cleaning properties, is becoming more common in a broad range of applications, from industry to medicine. When water falls on these leaves, it forms beads that roll off, taking dust and dirt with them thanks to the complex microscopic and nanoscopic structure of the surface. Supported by the EU-funded LASER4FUN project, a team of researchers has devised a method inspired by the lotus effect using lasers to etch filigree patterns directly into metal surfaces.
Process - Press - Release - Fraunhofer - Institute
Summarising the process in a press release by the Fraunhofer Institute for Material and Beam Technology IWS, Dr Tim Kunze said: "With our process, we want to prevent any form of contamination on aircraft surfaces." He added, however, that "it would also be a success if we could at least reduce it considerably."
The same press release notes that the engineers have used a direct laser interference patterning (DLIP) technique. This involves the use of special optics to split a single laser beam into several partial beams that recombine on the metal surface to be structured. It creates precise and controllable light patterns. "If the interference pattern is focused onto a titanium sheet, the high-energy laser light melts and ablates the material in the bright areas, while it leaves the material unaffected in the dark areas."
Team - Patterns - Halls - Pillars - Iron
The team observed that these patterns resemble halls of pillars or corrugated iron roofs. "The distances between the pillars can be set between...
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