Swiss researchers coated polyester fabric with tiny silicone nanofilaments and the result is a whole new level of waterproofing. “The water comes to rest on the top of the nanofilaments like a fakir sitting on a bed of nails,” says Professor Stefan Seeger, University of Zurich, who is leading the effort to create the super-waterproof material.
Nature, in the form of the lotus plant, served as a model for research efforts to waterproof fabrics. Surface structures on the lotus leaf keep water droplets above a layer of air. The fabric coating process developed by Seeger involves condensing silicone gas to form filaments. The coating can also be added to other textiles, including wool, viscose and cotton, although polyester gives the best results to date.