A team of researchers in Europe have begun developing the antibacterial, fluid-repellent, metal surface. Although some expensive and specific plastic parts duplicated to have similar properties exist, this is a first for self-cleaning metal. After being perfected, the product is supposed to be used in the food industry self-cleaning appliances and machines.
The TresClean project was inspired by the super-hydrophobic property of the Lotus’ leaves (genus Nelumbo). Leaves surfaces left the impression that there might be a possibility to create structures with similar functions, leading to the research of inventing such metal surfaces that prevent bacterial adherence. This concept could be used in various fields, from food industry to biomedical applications.
Metal surfaces undergo a specific laser process to replicate the Lotus leaf surface, using inventive photonics devices for common industrial use: high-average power ultra-short-pulsed lasers in combination with high-performance scanning heads by utilizing an original beam delivery method. This way, TresClean is able to complete stainless steel surface marking of 500 square cm in less than 30 minutes. The result is that the liquids ‘bounce off’: on the surface, minuscule pockets of air will minimize the contact area between the surface and a liquid.
The project coordinator of TresClean, Professor Romoli, believes that the product may be ready for market within 2 years. In the food farming industry, this product is hoped to make a real impact on productivity by saving many hours of cleaning per day it will also lead to fewer sterilization cycles and less cleaning time within whole production. The product would also lead into saving energy as a result of fewer cleaning steps, making food production safer and cleaner.