“Shields up!” (but maybe not much longer)

Technology |  2 min. read

Parents!  Have you heard the news about fluorinated polyurethane (FP for short)?

Ok, no, of course you haven’t – unless your day job is in a chemistry lab.  But this news IS big news – because “FP” is an essential part of a new coating that is spill-proof and stain-proof. Which is to say, it’s kid-proof!

Scientists at University of Michigan (a team led by a scientist who is also a parent), have developed a clear, smooth coating that can protect walls and windows, countertops and tables (computer and tablet and cellphone screens too) from smears and schmears.

So let’s say one of the kids knocks over a glass of juice on the counter – or writes her name in jam on the window – or maybe you’re in the midst of a slice of bacon when you reach over to check your phone.  Oil, water, alcohol – doesn’t matter.  Things just don’t stick to it.

(True, you can’t spray your kids with it – but whatever sticks to your kids, or you, won’t stick to anything coated in “it”.)

In this case, “it” is a mix of fluorinated polyurethane (and if you are a regular reader, you will recognize polyurethane as a common, and inexpensive product made using either benzene or toluene as the petrochemical building block), and F-POSS (if you want the full moniker, it’s fluorodecyl polyhedral oligomeric silsesquioxane – and now maybe, you’re sorry you asked). The fluorinated polyurethane forms the base for the coating (because it is one of the few substances that will partially mix with the F-POSS), and keeps the F-POSS from wandering off, while F-POSS does the work of repelling – well, everything.

So how soon would be too soon for that?  Hmmm, how about now – would now work?  Well, as it turns out, no, it wouldn’t.  But the Michigan team does think we could see this on the shelves (and our tables and countertops and screens) in a couple of years.

Meantime, you’ll have to keep those sponges and wipes handy.  Sorry.