The Ohio State University researchers have developed a material that will let soap products come out smoothly from its container. Now, we do not have to squeeze bottles just to get that last drop of shampoo out.
As reported in the study published on June 27 in the journal Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society, the plastic bottle is coated with microscopic y-shaped structures that support the product above minute air pockets. In other words, the soap product does not touch the bottle.
The coating is compatible with polypropylene, a common plastic material used for creating bottles for medical products, foodstuffs and other personal care products. The team also used the coating to polycarbonate, a plastic commonly used in cases or covers for your gadgets as well as car headlights.
The team used nanoparticles made of silica to create these “y” structures. Silica is used to create glass and does not stick to soap products.
The structures measure a few micrometers high (note: a micrometer is one millionth of a meter). These cover the insides of the bottles in branchlike projections. Although very small, they are as strong as glass.
The structures do not have to cover the bottle interior completely. The air pockets, as researcher and engineer Philip Brown says, provide the liquid repellency.
So, the soap products form beads and flow freely instead of spreading out on the bottle as seen in current products. Although the process of creating such a substance is complicated, the researchers say it is all worth it.
Moreover, instead of molding the structures into shampoo bottles, the researchers chose to use it as lining instead because it is less expensive, more durable and less time consuming.
The approach can also encourage the recycling of millions of tons of bottles discarded. Of course, the researchers suggest plastic bottles to be rinsed and cleaned completely before lining them with the coating.
“We all struggle with shampoo bottles at home,” adds engineer Bharat Bhusha. “I have a few in my shower right now. Trying to get the last drop out, I put it upside down, and my wife adds water to the bottle and fights with it for a while, and then we give up and just throw it away.”
The Ohio State University aims to license the coating method. Apart from shampoo bottles, further improvements could also improve other plastic products like catheters, biomedical devices or other devices used in health care that need to be clean to avoid contamination and infection.