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Just in time for Halloween, our scientists are engineering one of the most intense phobias around.

Strictly speaking, the incredible bounce of water in these gifs above doesn’t have to do with being scared—last we checked, water was still pretty stoic—but the phenomenon is called hydrophobicity, literally a fear of water. Nanoscale cone structures across the material repel water with extreme prejudice, preventing any absorption and sending the little molecules on their merry way.

The slower droplets—captured here with a camera capable of shooting at 30,000 frames per second—bounce along the superhydrophobic (!) surface unimpeded, but the faster ones break apart in that gravity-defying dance. Moving this technology into car and aircraft windshields might ramp up visibility and also help self-clean by carrying along dirt particles.

While not quite as magical as the Impervius Charm, just consider that the scientists actually used a self-assembly fabrication process. You know, because billionths-of-a-meter structures just work better when they can build themselves.



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