In the case you haven’t heard about the wonderfully-wacky and potentially life-changing Liquid-Glide yet, stop doing whatever you’re currently doing and immediately watch this.
Born out of one of the more frustrating feelings in the first world – struggling to get the last bit of ketchup out of the bottle or the last squirt of toothpaste out of the tube without forcefully straining or having to use your fingers – LiquiGlide keeps the inside of a container permanently wet and allow its contents to easily slide out.
When considering how LiquiGlide works on a molecular level, the reason why it’s so difficult to get condiments out of their containers is because they are viscous liquids that can’t flow without a powerful push. When these kinds of liquids flow through a pipe or a bottle, the layer of liquids flow at different speeds and create friction and viscosity. The layer at the very center of the container is flowing fastest and the layer that is closest to the container sticks to its surface.
LiquiGlide is the brainchild of Kripa Varanasi, a professor at MIT who developed the idea after his wife expressed frustration from being unable to extract all of the honey from a bottle. After months of research and development in his lab, Varanasi ultimately developed a coating that sits between a porous surface and a liquid – LiquiGlide.
The LiquiGlide coating is applied onto a surface (such as inside a honey jar) and because it is liquid based, it fills the tiny valleys that exist on a porous surface and is kept in place by the hills. The coating depth is just enough to prevent the liquid from touching the surface underneath, thus the liquid moves in response to gravity with little to no friction or binding forces holding it back; the result of which is the liquid smoothly flowing out of the bottle leaving no bits behind on the wall. This is the concept of creating a “superhydrophobic” surface. A hydrophobic surface repels water; a superhydrophobic surface, as one might imagine, really repels water. Inspired in part by lotus leaves, the surface of a superhydrophobic material looks rough, at least under a microscope. Water rolls up into balls, sitting on the tips of the rough surface, but mostly on air trapped between the droplet and the rough surface. The droplets roll off easily.
Although the discovery is bound to make many sandwich condiment fans happy, Varanasi’s original intent behind LiquiGlide was for industry-specific applications such as oil pumping or to keep ice off of airplane wings or for making more efficient steam turbines.
For now, the company has found success the consumer products segment. Iconic school and wood glue company Elmers Products, Inc. is on board and has already signed a contract with LiquiGlide. Additionally, an easier-to-squeeze mayonnaise bottle might be coming out this year as well as a new easy-squeeze toothpaste in 2017.