LilaG writes "Who hasn't marveled at the ability of water bugs to skate along the surface of lakes and ponds? Now materials scientists in China have taken a cue from water striders and created a device that can coast along the surface between oil and water. The tricky part was figuring out how to make an oil-repelling surface that worked underwater. It came down to coating copper wires with copper oxide microstructures that look like flowers made up of nanopetals. Scientists think such coatings could enable robots that clean up oil spills, bug-proof car windshields, and ship hulls that don't build up barnacles."