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Earth Science

Spray-On Liquid Glass 293

Posted by kdawson
from the smooth-move dept.
bLanark writes with news of a new substance that can be sprayed on for a durable, easy-to-clean film on almost any substance, hard or soft. The liquid glass is essentially pure silicon dioxide, and it goes on in a layer 15 to 30 atoms thick. It is breathable and flexible, but waterproof and resistant to bacterial growth. The patent is held by a German company, Nanopool, which is in discussion with many parties about a wide range of uses: keeping public spaces sanitary, keeping restaurants clean, and keeping cars or trains clean. "The spray forms a water-resistant layer, meaning it can be cleaned using only water. Trials by food-processing companies showed that sterile surfaces covered with a film of liquid glass were equally clean after a rinse with hot water as after their usual treatment with strong bleach."
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Spray-On Liquid Glass

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  • winshield repair? (Score:4, Interesting)

    by ak_hepcat (468765) <leif AT denali DOT net> on Tuesday February 02, 2010 @06:01PM (#31001794) Homepage Journal

    Can I now avoid costly windshield replacements by simply spraying this stuff on my windshield after a ding storm, or crack?

    Because that'd be nice.

    • by fuo (941897) on Tuesday February 02, 2010 @06:04PM (#31001832)
      Probably not... unless you don't mind having having only 15 to 30 atoms between you and the outside world.
    • Re:winshield repair? (Score:5, Informative)

      by smellsofbikes (890263) on Tuesday February 02, 2010 @06:18PM (#31001992) Journal

      Can I now avoid costly windshield replacements by simply spraying this stuff on my windshield after a ding storm, or crack?

      The problem with having a crack isn't the divot where the crack started, it's the leading end of the crack. When you apply stress to a material that has a crack, the force per unit area at the tip of the crack approaches infinity, so what you have to do to keep the crack from spreading is increase its area. That's why windshield repair people drill holes at the ends of the cracks and then fill them.

      Even if your intent is just to fill the much smaller divots in the glass, 30 molecules thick isn't going to make much difference. What you need is a material that has roughly the same index of refraction as the glass, that you can spread over the divots like makeup.

    • Think bigger (Score:5, Interesting)

      by RingDev (879105) on Tuesday February 02, 2010 @06:21PM (#31002026) Homepage Journal

      Forget your windshield, think YOUR ENTIRE CAR!

      No more clear coats, no more waxing, no more "rubberized under coating". If it is cheap, and light enough, you could coat every body panel and frame member with the stuff, virtually guarantying a rust proof existence.


      • Or entire -train- cars. In europe, they all seem to be coated in stupid spray paint logos from lazy taggers.

        Several organisations are said to be testing the product, including a train company in Britain, which is using liquid glass on both the interior and exterior of the train,

        I'm guessing they're hoping this will prevent idiots from vandalizing trains, since why would you care about dirt being on your freight train. Then again, shipping companies might not care much about vandalism anyway.

        • why would you care about dirt being on your freight train.

          Weight. I wouldn't be surprised to find that the weight of all the dust and dirt on a large freight train added up to hundreds of pounds, possibly coming close to a ton on some of the largest ones. Hauling all that extra weight cross-country adds to the fuel costs. If the dust and dirt don't cling to this coating very well, it may well pay for itself quickly in lowered fuel costs in a very short time.

          • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

            by tsa (15680)

            One ton on a 1000 or even more ton train is nothing. Even on one wagon it's not really something to worry about.

      • Re:Think bigger (Score:4, Informative)

        by Jane Q. Public (1010737) on Tuesday February 02, 2010 @06:35PM (#31002184)
        Dream on.

        While it might make a nice coat for the paint job, it is likely that a glass coating is not very suitable for parts that undergo sharp mechanical stresses, like the suspension.

        But more to the point: undercoats in general have been found to be a bad idea. They tend to encourage destructive corrosion wherever they are compromised, while parts without such an impermeable waterproof coating will rust more gracefully.
    • Cracks up to a few inches long can be sealed already with existing resins that windshield replacement/repair companies use, and most insurance policies (at least here in the US) cover repair for free with no deductible; only full replacements incur such.

      • Re:Meh (Score:5, Informative)

        by Jane Q. Public (1010737) on Tuesday February 02, 2010 @06:47PM (#31002302)
        Part of the reason for this is that water tends to act almost like a "catalyst", encouraging cracks in glass to spread much more rapidly. According to an article in Scientific American, water causes glass to crack more easily because when a water molecule enters the crack, a reaction occurs in which a silicon-oxygen bond at the crack and an oxygen-hydrogen bond in the water are cleaved, creating two hydroxyl groups attached to silicon. As a result, the length of the crack grows by the size of one bond rupture. The water reaction reduces the energy necessary to break the silicon-oxygen bonds, thus the crack grows faster.

        Theoretically, any strong material that will fill the crack and prevent moisture from entering should stop the cracking process. I don't see why a film of silicon dioxide would not work as well as resin.
  • Too Bad (Score:4, Funny)

    by BlueBoxSW.com (745855) on Tuesday February 02, 2010 @06:02PM (#31001814) Homepage

    Too bad "ManInTheWhiteSuit" is too long of a tag.

    What a great movie.

    • Alec Guinness was cool. His movies always seemed to be rather sad at the end, though... seems "it" never worked out. Man in the White Suit, Lavender Hill Mob, Ladykillers, and Kind Hearts and Cornets all ended rather badly for the main protagonist. Among others. :)
  • So, now, where is my liquid spray on diamond coating. That's what I'm waiting for...
    • Well, in theory it wouldn't really be that hard to do; we can already synthesise very small diamonds.

      Although, from my limited understanding of the field, you'd really want the glass instead, at the 100-300 molecule level.

  • I've been using a product called Knot Wax (from a company called LoPresti) for years on my airplane. It's a two part spray on process that coats the airplane in a glass shell.

    I'm not so sure this is any different, or new for that matter.

    • Re:New? Really? (Score:4, Informative)

      by reverseengineer (580922) on Tuesday February 02, 2010 @06:47PM (#31002300)
      Products like Knot Wax are more like a plastic shell than a glass shell. The process takes two parts because first a coating of a resin is laid down (usually either a polyepoxide or polyurethane), and then an amine is applied to cross-link the resin molecules, leading to a very tough coating. The product discussed here appears to be a solution of short chains of silica, which when applied deposit actual glass on the surface. I'm curious about the strength of such a coating; there doesn't not appear to be any suggestion that the glass is bonded to the surface by anything stronger than van der Waals forces.
      • Re:New? Really? (Score:5, Insightful)

        by Ungrounded Lightning (62228) on Tuesday February 02, 2010 @07:28PM (#31002700) Journal

        I'm curious about the strength of such a coating; there doesn't not appear to be any suggestion that the glass is bonded to the surface by anything stronger than van der Waals forces.

        If the short-chains bond to each other, some of them might bond to the surface (if its structure is appropriate).

        Even if not, unless the surface is mirror-smooth it will have irregularities. A liquid that cross-links into a solid will wrap such irregularities and form a mechanical interference bond - like a surface wrapped under a rivet, a mushroom-shaped extension into a void, or a root into a crack.

        Van der Walls forces are not trivial - especially between form-fitted irregularly-shaped solids. And if the "glass" and its substrate have any charge asymmetry the setting glass will also tend to settle into place with opposite charges nearby, forming something like a hydrogen bond.

        This might stick on to many surfaces very well.

      • there doesn't not appear to be any suggestion

        That should either be "doesn't" or "does not," and not my indecisive combination of the two, which alters meaning somewhat. On another note, I can't figure out how this liquid glass stuff is supposed to work as a product. The "liquid glass" manufacturers suggest it can be made into a spray in water or ethanol, but it apparently dries to form a waterproof coating. They claim to use no additives, but I'm not sure how aggregation of suspended silica is prevented

  • Silicosis? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by pwnies (1034518) * <j@jjcm.org> on Tuesday February 02, 2010 @06:11PM (#31001894) Homepage Journal
    If it's that thing of a layer, wont it be prone to breaking off and becoming airborne? Sounds like silicosis-fun-times to me.
    • Re:Silicosis? (Score:4, Insightful)

      by pz (113803) on Tuesday February 02, 2010 @06:45PM (#31002272) Journal

      If it's that thing of a layer, wont it be prone to breaking off and becoming airborne? Sounds like silicosis-fun-times to me.

      Yeah. Silica-based glass is not very hard. Although this coating is reportedly flexible, I'm betting that it will be readily breached with a sharp edge, so that the example application, on food processing surfaces, at least ones that come in contact with knives, tools and containers, won't be that useful. Stainless steel works by more-or-less the same idea (a thin, hard oxide forms at the surface), except that it has the advantage that when -- not if -- the oxide layer is damaged, a new one automatically forms.

      • Cutting boards made of glass are quite common. To be fair, though, I believe they are of somewhat different composition.
        • by pz (113803)

          Cutting boards made of glass are quite common. To be fair, though, I believe they are of somewhat different composition.

          And they're thick. Scratch the surface, and there is still glass beneath. With the waterproof coating, once the silica layer has been breached, all of the nice properties are lost and, as the great grandparent posting suggests, the coating will likely start to flake off. While the waterproofing characteristics are very interesting, I'm betting there is a lot of hard work left to make the coating durable enough for an industrial food processing setting.

    • by Goldsmith (561202)

      first thing I thought of too... these guys are going to have a fun time with European regulators.

  • I always wanted waterproof lungs.

  • Ah now i can finally keep my touchscreen from getting greasy...

    (Or does it interfere with its operation?)

    • by ceoyoyo (59147)

      Somehow I doubt spraying a glass coating on your glass touch screen is going to do you much good. Probably the opposite since glass touch screens are supposed to have oil repellant coatings.

    • I'm surprised that it took this long for someone to bring this up. It was one of my first thoughts.
  • by Orga (1720130) on Tuesday February 02, 2010 @06:14PM (#31001936)
    Inhaling finely divided crystalline silica dust in very small quantities (OSHA allows 0.1 mg/m3) over time can lead to silicosis, bronchitis or (much more rarely) cancer, as the dust becomes lodged in the lungs and continuously irritates them, reducing lung capacities (silica does not dissolve over time). http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Silicon_dioxide [wikipedia.org]
    • Yes, but that is 0.0001 g/m3 * 1/60.0843 g/molecule * 6.02*10^23 molecues/mol = 10^18 molecules / cubic meter. at 10-30 atoms thick, and assuming a each molecule takes up about 10 pm square (is that right?) you get about 2*10^25 of atoms/meter. Wait, can that be right? I must have a bad assumption or math somewhere...
  • Anti-graffiti? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday February 02, 2010 @06:19PM (#31002002)

    I wonder if this could help make graffiti removal easier. Spray this on a clean road sign, and then just wash it with water if it gets tagged. Sure could help new drivers in Los Angeles.

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by pz (113803)

      I wonder if this could help make graffiti removal easier. Spray this on a clean road sign, and then just wash it with water if it gets tagged. Sure could help new drivers in Los Angeles.

      The New York Subway system has been reportedly using teflon coating for exactly this reason for a very long time. Urban pinheads -- ah, I mean artists -- determined to make their mark despite the paint-shedding properties of teflon discovered that you can scratch the surface instead, thus creating what's called scratchiti, a horrible, far more defacing version of graffiti.

    • This could lead to graffiti competitions!

      Set up some wall, complete with owner's permission, spray this product on it, have the graffiti contestants go at it. Pictures taken, scores noted, wipe it down and then the next contestant does his/her thang.

      There could be sponsorships, regional championships and the ultimate Graffiti Bowl (TM)!

      • This could lead to graffiti competitions!

        Gah, and you got my hopes up. I was hoping for a competition where people try to graffiti a wall as fast as possible while another guy tries to wash the same wall. Give the painter a half-wall head-start and see who wins :D

  • If nothing sticks to it, how does it stay on?

    It reminds me of the old joke: a young man comes back from his first year as a college chemistry major. His father asks him what he is working on. "We're trying to create the universal solvent."

    "What's that?"

    "It's a liquid that will dissolve anything."

    "What're ya gonna keep it in?"
  • by resistant (221968) on Tuesday February 02, 2010 @06:22PM (#31002030) Homepage Journal

    I saw this news item as well, albeit at PhysOrg [physorg.com], which has linked a few interesting related articles. From the comments, it struck me that a concern is indeed the possibility that stray particles from applying this stuff might get into your lungs or on your eyes, causing all sorts of problems since it apparently binds well to organic substances. Also, one wonders what happens if the coating is degraded on food-handling surfaces. Do fragmented microparticles rip up your insides after being carried into your body within contaminated food?

    Even with these concerns, of course, I'd love to test this stuff on various less risky surfaces, such as bathroom tiles and shop tools, with appropriate respiratory and eye protection. Being able to use it on a kitchen countertop would just be a welcome bonus if it turns out to be safe for that use after all. (As an aside, I think that use wouldn't breed resistant bacteria since it simply discourages any bacteria at all from growing on the protected surfaces).

    • by jafiwam (310805)
      It might make a good quick-clot type powder then. This same set of information has been spammed all over the place today. It smells like scam or BS like the Moller Air Car to me. REAL tech comes out in a less organized fashion. So, write it into the next SciFi short story or forget about it....
  • This product reminds of the one years ago that could provide a thin but very hard layer for vinyl records thus preventing wear (and the noise/distortion that goes with it).

    If this material doesn't come off or splinter, maybe it would be good for protecting glasses with plastic lenses?

    • by ProppaT (557551)

      Really? If this is so, I want to buy stock in this company. Not that I disbelieve you, but I've never heard of this and it's very exciting news. Every record should come with a coat of this on it...and if the technology is there it could potentially change a lot of the music industry. The only con to a record is that it wears out. If you can give me a record for life (i.e., it gets dusty and skips around? throw it in the dishwasher), I'll pay a premium for it. And I'm sure the professional audio indu

      • by Chyeld (713439)

        So you have this recording medium that is based on the idea that you'll make groves in it and run a needle along the groove. Within the groove, you'll have a number of bumps and dips which cause a vibration in the needle, which in turn is transmitted either mechanically or electronically to an amplification device, from whence the sound is actually produced.

        And you think it'd be a good idea to attempt to coat said medium with a protective layer of hardened substance, to prevent it from being scratched. Do y

  • No information (Score:5, Informative)

    by Geoffrey.landis (926948) on Tuesday February 02, 2010 @06:28PM (#31002108) Homepage

    Anybody else notice that the article has essentially no information on what the stuff is? One thing that it isn't is "we extract molecules of SiO2, and then we add the molecules to water or ethanol," which is what the article tries to imply-- you can't just "add" molecules of silicon dioxide to water, nor to alcohol. So, just exactly what is it?

    The actual press release from which this article seem to have been drawn is here [nanopool.eu].

  • Gain no calories from your dessert with our secret hardening spray on topping! Disclaimer: may cause minor irritation of gums, tongue, esophagus, stomach, intestines and whatever else is left.
  • by prgrmr (568806) on Tuesday February 02, 2010 @06:40PM (#31002230) Journal
    Think of the fun to be had spraying this stuff on the battery terminals of ipods, cell phones and other electronic devices of those you want to annoy. It's a party in can!
  • Finally, I can make my life size cut out of Colonel Sanders white-board marker safe.

  • Somewhere, Clark Griswold is smiling.

  • by jollyreaper (513215) on Tuesday February 02, 2010 @06:42PM (#31002240)

    You can spray it? "They called it misted glass!"

  • by boristdog (133725) on Tuesday February 02, 2010 @06:44PM (#31002262)

    I call it "Can o' Glass". Kids love glass, and kids love sprayin' stuff. We just give the kids what they want.

  • by bigattichouse (527527) on Tuesday February 02, 2010 @06:53PM (#31002364) Homepage

    I can feel my lungs beginning to itch, ahhh Silicosis [wikipedia.org] - how nice that EVERYTHING will be covered in a fine layer of silicon that *WILL* wear away and add some lovely fine powdered glass to my daily breathing.

  • >"The spray forms a water-resistant layer, meaning it can be cleaned using only water."

    Last time I checked, that is NOT the definition of water-resistant. "Water-resistant" means just that- it resists being dissolved by or being penetrated by water. It does not mean it can be "cleaned using only water." ("Water-proof", means it can NOT be dissolved by or penetrated at all by water.) Who writes this stuff??

  • ... welcome our transparent waterproof 15 to 30 atoms thick overlords.
  • If you were to use tap water where I live (hard water area), you would quickly end up with a smear of limescale on the surface. So you would need to clean (or at least rinse) with distilled water.
  • Pure silicon dioxide, in its glass form, is quartz. This is a scheme for putting a thin quartz film on other materials. That's useful, but not revolutionary. The big improvement here is that it's apparently applied as a liquid solution in air at room temperature, rather than having to be applied at molten quartz temperatures or in vacuum.

  • meh... (Score:5, Funny)

    by nycguy (892403) on Tuesday February 02, 2010 @08:31PM (#31003434)
    From TFA:

    the concept of spray-on glass is mind-boggling

    The concept of spray-on breasts is mind-boggling. The concept of spray-on glass is merely interesting.

You know you've landed gear-up when it takes full power to taxi.