Squeeze Every Last Drop Out of the Bio-Inspired Shampoo Bottle

Jun 29, 2016 10:23 AM EDT

Have you ever experienced the frustration of trying to shake the last drop of shampoo out of the bottle? Mindful consumers may take heart: scientists have found a way to make that difficult task a breeze-by building a better shampoo bottle.

Ohio State University has announced that its researchers have developed a bio-inspired texture that serves as the perfect surface for the smooth flow of soapy substances within a plastic container. The researchers were inspired by the slippery nature of a lotus leaf surface, said lead researcher Professor Bharat Bhushan to ABC News Australia. Products such as shampoo, body wash, liquid soap and laundry detergent will easily pour out of a bottle whose interior is lined with the new texture.

The breakthrough bottle design involves structuring it so that microscopic y-shaped formations work to push droplets of soap away from the interior. Miniscule air pockets keep the soapy fluid aloft so that it never really touches the sides of the bottle. The tiny y-shaped structures are constructed out of microscopic "building blocks" known as nanoparticles, which are made of silica or quartz-materials that, after a bit of treatment, do not stick to soap.

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Soap contains organic molecules called surfactants. These give soap a lower surface tension than water, which means that soapy fluids like shampoo will stick to plastic surfaces that water can simply flow past. The "stickiness" of shampoo is what makes it so effective for cleaning dirt out of our hair. But that is also what makes it so hard to get shampoo out of the bottle.

While that sounds like a trivial problem to have, keep in mind that there are wider implications for the environment. Many recycling companies will not recycle plastic bottles unless they are completely free of shampoo. The new shampoo bottle design can be a boon for the planet, if it diverts more plastic refuse away from the landfill and into the recycling centers.

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