Good-bye, Taki 183; June 1994; Scientific American Magazine; by Stix; 2 Page(s)
When polymer chemists want to fashion a material to which nothing will stick, they often design a molecule in which a fluorine atom takes the place normally occupied by that of hydrogen in the ubiquitous hydrocarbons. Fluorine forms a tight covalent bond with carbon, keeping it from combining with atoms from other molecules.
The best known of these antistick concoctions is polytetrafluoroethylene, aka Teflon. Dow Chemical has come up with a new fluorocarbon formulation whose abhesive (as opposed to adhesive) properties may be better than ordinary Teflon and that may be of use where its frying-pan cousin may not. The fluorochemical might, for example, serve not only as a protective coating for subway walls but as a surface that guards against barnacles on ships, dirt on wallpaper and ice on aircraft.