Super-nonwetting, self-cleaning omniphobic fabric that resists water, oil, dirt, dust

Material made from nanoparticles repels most liquids and can be used for enhanced biological/chemical protective clothing and military uniforms


A scientist at the U.S. Army’s CCDC Soldier Center has recently invented an omniphobic material that resists becoming wet from water, liquid chemicals, organic solvents, and oils.

A water droplet sits on a durable water repellent-coated surface. An Army scientist has developed a material that is repellant to water, oil, and organic solvents. (Brocken Inaglory)

The technology has key applications in enhanced biological/chemical protective clothing and military uniforms. The patented technology is available via patent license agreement to companies that would make, use, or sell it commercially.

Clothing treated with durable water repellents keeps the wearer from getting wet, but it doesn’t protect against dirt, dust, or oils. They also lose their water repellency after repeated washes and abrasions. Many people — for example, soldiers on the battlefield or workers in a chemical factory — require clothing that can resist a wide variety of substances for optimal performance, including water, liquid chemicals, organic solvents, and oils.

Now, an Army scientist has created an omniphobic material made from two different sizes of nanoparticles that combine the power of hydrophobicity (resistant to water) and oleophobicity (resistant to liquid chemicals, organic solvents, and oils). The method described in the patent leads to a durable, conformal super-nonwetting coated fabric that repels low surface tension liquids — including chemical warfare agents and toxic industrial chemicals — and have a minimal attraction to dust and dirt. As a result, any clothing made from this fabric will be self-cleaning.

The material has obvious military applications in terms of soldier uniforms but also has potential uses in all-weather gear, tents, shelters, textile structures, and sportswear.

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