GE has developed a superhydrophobic plastic based on the Lotus Effect that repels water. Different from other initiatives that worked with plastics that were already hydrophobic (and expensive) plastics, GE used Lexan, a cheap plastic that is normally hydrophilic (easily wetted), and roughens the surface using a chemical treatment. Although the current process makes the plastic opaque, GE believes a transparent version is possible.
GE estimates commercial products using this process will be available in five years. Applications include food containers for sticky substances that can be completely emptied, self-clearing surfaces, and inexpensive diagnostic chips that rely on fluids flowing easily through tiny channels.