SLIPS (Slippery-Liquid-Infused Porous Surfaces) creates a hybrid surface that is smooth and slippery due to its liquid layer.
It works by creating an immobilized sea of liquid on the surface of any material, said the Wyss Institute for Biologically Inspired Engineering at Harvard University.
Joanna Aizenberg, a Wyss Institute core faculty member and the Amy Smith Berylson professor of materials science at the school of Engineering and Applied Sciences (SEAS) created the technology with Tak–Sing Wong.
Aizenberg spoke to us in 2012 about its use to prevent biofilms forming in food processing machinery by tricking bacteria into thinking there is nowhere for it to attach and grow.
BASF Venture Capital led a $3m Series A financing with a $1.5m investment in SLIPS Technologies.
The technology creates repellent and robust self–cleaning surfaces on metals, plastics, optics, textiles and ceramics.
These slippery surfaces repel almost any fouling challenge a surface may face — such as bacteria, ice, water, oil, dust, barnacles, or other contaminants.
Food industry potential
Scott Healey, VP business development at SLIPS Technologies, told FoodQualityNews.com that while food and packaging aren’t the primary focus, there is opportunity there.
“We do see tremendous value in the food and packaging industry, including the obvious “getting the ketchup out of the bottle”, but more so in the production of food and packaged goods where fouling of belts, optical sensors, filling lines, etc,” he said.
“These same types of problems are worth looking at in a huge number of industries.”
Healey said it believes there is a ‘ton of commercial potential’ with the technology.
“There were so many inquiries from so many different groups, that eventually there needed to be commercial entity with the charter to handle the requests and continue the growth of the technology," he said.
“One of our investors, Mr Hansjorg Wyss, who helped fund the Wyss Institue at Harvard, also recognized the potential commercial value in STI.”
BASF and future agreements
Healey said the agreement with BASF for thermo plastic urethanes (TPUs) used in industries including footwear, industrial cables and specialty films could be some of the first commercial applications.
“We will be looking for industry partners and partnerships, like the one we have established with BASF Corporation to bring SLIPS to their target industry segments. We are currently in discussions with dozens of companies who we hope will invest in STI,” he said.
“We believe that some of these companies will see the value that SLIPS can bring to their industries and want to invest with STI for that purpose.”
Healey said they are very pleased to have launched STI.
“Many ideas and technologies have started off with a lot of promise and haven’t made it this far.
“I think that speaks to the strength of our technology and also the work done by Dr Aizenberg and her team. That said we have a long way to go.”