Inspired by the insect-eating Nepenthes pitcher plant, which snares its prey on a surface lubricated by a remarkably slippery aqueous secretion, Joanna Aizenberg and colleagues have synthesized omniphobic surfaces that can self-repair and function at high pressures. Their 'slippery liquid-infused porous surfaces' (or SLIPS) exhibit almost perfect slipperiness towards polar, organic and complex liquids. SLIPS function under extreme conditions, are easily constructed from inexpensive materials and can be endowed with other useful characteristics, such as enhanced optical transparency, through the selection of appropriate substrates and lubricants. Ultra-slippery surfaces of this type might find application in biomedical fluid handling, fuel transport, antifouling, anti-icing, optical imaging and elsewhere.
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