New Ice-Repellant Material Could Improve Aviation Safety

A drop of water rolls off the MAGSS ice-phobic surface. (Cullen College of Engineering)

Icy conditions can be deadly when flying into bad weather. Researchers at the University of Houston have discovered a material that can be applied to any surface to repel ice. The material, known as a magnetic slippery surface (MAGSS), could be applied to aircraft wings.

One side of the surface is coated with a magnetic material, while a thin layer of magnetic fluid is deposited on the other side. The magnetic fluid faces outside. When a droplet of water hits the surface, the magnetic fluid acts as a barrier, stopping the droplet from reaching the solid surface. The MAGSS has a lower freezing threshold than the best ice-phobic technology currently available – about -29 degrees Fahrenheit, compared to -13 degrees Fahrenheit for current technology.