A newly developed invention stands to eradicate yet another one of life's small frustrations — getting that last bit of soap out of the bottle.
Researchers at Ohio State University have designed a texture that can repel "surfactants," a name given to the class of compounds that include soap, shampoos, detergents, and similar substances.
It is another addition to a growing field of "self-cleaning" surfaces, that can repel liquids such as water or oil, and have "anti-fouling" properties that can prevent the growth of mold and bacteria. Tiny nanostructures prevent substances from gripping these surfaces, leading the mess to bead up and roll right off.
The team published its results Monday in the journal Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society A.
The texture designed by engineers Bharat Bhushan and Philip Brown can be used to line the insides of bottles of everyday soaps and cleaning products — a kind of substance that has been particularly difficult for this kind of research. If the research produces commercially viable products, this method could considerably cut down on the amount of these chemicals that are wasted each year. It could also keep old shampoo from crusting around the lid of the bottle.
"It's what you'd call a first-world problem, right? 'I can't get all of the shampoo to come out of the bottle'," said Bhushan, a professor at Ohio State, and one of the researchers on the study, in a press release. "But manufacturers are really interested in this, because they make billions of bottles that end up in the garbage with product still in them."