Unsinkable metal: Inspired by nature, designed in Rochester

Local News

ROCHESTER, NY (WROC) — A metal that cannot sink has become a reality thanks to a group of scientists at the University of Rochester. 

Dr. Chunlei Guo is a professor of optics at the university who wanted to develop a floating metal with a group of scientists. “We looked into nature for inspiration and saw that there are two types of species,” said Guo. 

The diving-bell spider lives in a bubble of air by using water repellant properties and becoming superhydrophobic. Fire ants are another creature in nature that can do this and avoid floods to survive. This was the inspiration for the team. This technology of shooting lasers at metal has now created what nature had designed. 

“The laser gives out extremely high intense short pulses that process the metal surface,” said Guo. 

The water bounces right off the metal, so if a boat at the bottom is covered in this metal, water would literally repel off the boat regardless if there was a massive puncture. “It should in principle, never sink!” 

This technology is already prepared to be upscaled for commercial use they just need some investment. The group has had an interest in the shipping industry to develop what would be the first ship with this technology. 

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