The graphene-based de-icer resists the formation of ice well below the freezing point, and has superhydrophobic capabilities. (Illustration courtesy of the Tour Group)

Rice University scientists have advanced their graphene-based de-icer to serve a dual purpose. The new material still melts ice from wings and wires when conditions get too cold, but if the air is above 7 F, ice won’t form at all. The tough film that forms when the de-icer is sprayed on a surface is made of atom-thin graphene nanoribbons that are conductive, so the material can also be heated with electricity to melt ice and snow in colder conditions.

The graphene nanoribbons are modified with a fluorine compound to enhance their hydrophobicity. The material can be spray-coated, making it suitable for other large applications like power lines, radar domes, and ships.