Engineers looked at a lotus leaf easily shedding water and said, "Hey, we could do that." And so they did, with a revolutionary coating named superhydrophobic, which simply means it really dislikes water.

The technology works by creating a surface with lots of peaks and valleys. These create microscopic air bubbles that shed liquid. In a video (download from the site to watch) on a GE engineer's blog, you can see honey running right off a treated surface.

What does this mean for you, the loyal Autoblog reader? Lots, actually. Think about a car coated with this stuff. Water runs right off, taking with it any dirt that has accumulated. A quick spray of the hose and she's sparkling like new. Other automotive uses include coating low-friction parts, self-cleaning windshields, etc.

GE says its coating would be expected to last about 10 years, at which time it would need to be replaced or repaired. One airline official looking to use it as an ice-deterrent on planes said the durability wouldn't be a problem for the aviation industry. Even if the coating were chipped or damaged in places, it would make ice removal much easier. But in an automotive application, easily-chipped paint is rarely tolerated these days. GE realizes this and is said to be working on the problem.

[Source: AP via San Jose Mercury News]