At spotLESS Materials, we are passionate about transforming technology with great potential into technology with great impact.
Nature inspired engineering
Our team is passionate about nature-inspired engineering. We especially love looking at plants and insects under a microscope, and understanding how form is coupled with function. For example, we often look at the micro/nano-structures on a plant and understand how that makes a natural material highly water repellent. We also love making useful things. We’ll observe an interesting surface property in nature, understand the governing physics, and apply what we learn to make advanced materials. Before our company was formed our founding team worked together in an academic setting, conducting research in nature-inspired engineering as PhD students and faculty.
Passion for using technology for good
Our founding team has long had a passion for addressing global challenges facing humanity. One of our ultimate goals is to transform technology with great potential into technology with great impact. A few years ago, one of our co-founders, Tak-Sing Wong, was approached by a group working under the Gates Foundation’s Reinvent the Toilet Challenge looking for a solution to human waste residue in low-water toilet systems. We found that most hydrophobic and superhydrophobic coatings are excellent at repelling liquid, but fall short in their ability to repel sludge-like material. So we set out to make coatings specifically to repel human waste. The results of this work has been recently published in Nature Sustainability. We quickly learned that “sticky problems” are not unique to sanitation. From automotive application to medical, surfaces get dirty, so they need to be cleaned or replaced. Our aim is to make surfaces that keep themselves clean.
Our ultimate goal is to use what we have -- our skills, our technology -- to make the world a better place. The concrete ways we’d like to “make the world a better place” is to help address the Global Grand Challenges  laid out by the National Academy of Engineering.
Our coatings stand out in their ease of application and in sludge repellency, but are also highly effective at repelling water and other substances as well, as documented in our latest publication in Nature Sustainability . Founded in May 2018, spotLESS Materials is now aiming to address sticky problems common across various industries by developing and commercializing their liquid-, sludge-, and bacteria-repellent bio-inspired self-healing surface coating. This specific coating, referred to as a liquid-entrenched smooth surface (LESS), can address commercial needs related to fouling, icing, and self-cleaning. spotLESS Materials aims to establish itself as a leader and a collaborative development partner with a long term plan of addressing "sticky problems"' of diverse industries. spotLESS Materials has already received a SBIR grant from the US National Science Foundation for sanitation applications, and a number of other testing and contracted research opportunities.
 Wang, J., Wang, L., Sun, N. et al. Viscoelastic solid-repellent coatings for extreme water saving and global sanitation. Nat Sustain 2, 1097–1105 (2019). https://doi.org/10.1038/s41893-019-0421-0