A non-stick surface is a surface engineered to reduce the ability of other materials to stick to it. Non-stick cookware is a common application, where the non-stick coating allows food to brown without sticking to the pan. Non-stick is often used to refer to surfaces coated with polytetrafluoroethylene (PTFE), a well-known brand of which is "Teflon." In the twenty-first century other coatings have been marketed as non-stick, such as anodized aluminium, ceramics, silicone, enameled cast iron, and seasoned cookware.
The Mycenaean Greeks might have used non-stick pans to make bread more than 3,000 years ago. Mycenaean ceramic griddles had one smooth side and one side covered with tiny holes. The bread was probably placed on the side with the holes, since the dough tended to stick when cooked on the smooth side of the pan. The holes seem to be an ancient non-sticking technology, ensuring that oil spread evenly over the griddle.
The modern non-stick pans were made using a coating of Teflon (polytetrafluoroethylene or PTFE). PTFE was invented serendipitously by Roy Plunkett in 1938, while working for a joint venture of the DuPont company. The substance was found to have several unique properties, including very good corrosion-resistance and the lowest coefficient of friction of any substance yet manufactured. PTFE was first used to make seals resistant to the uranium hexafluoride gas used in development of the atomic bomb during World War II, and was regarded as a military secret. Dupont registered the Teflon trademark in 1944 and soon began planning for post-war commercial use of the new product.
A few years later, a French engineer had begun coating his fishing gear with Teflon to prevent tangles. His wife Colette suggested using the same method to coat her cooking pans. The idea was successful and a French patent was granted for the process in 1954. The Tefal company was formed in 1956 to manufacture non-stick pans.
With other types of pans, some oil or fat is required to prevent hot food from sticking to the pan's surface. Food does not have the same tendency to stick to a non-stick surface; pans can be used with less, or no, oil, and are easier to clean, as residues do not stick to the surface.
A superhydrophobic coating is a thin surface layer that repels water. It is made from superhydrophobic (ultrahydrophobicity) materials. Droplets hitting this kind of coating can fully rebound. Generally speaking, superhydrophobic coatings are made from composite materials where one component provides the roughness and the other provides low surface energy.
A liquid-impregnated surface consists of two distinct layers. The first is a highly textured or porous substrate with features spaced sufficiently close to stably contain the second layer which is an impregnating liquid that fills in the spaces between the features. The liquid must have a surface energy well-matched to the substrate in order to form a stable film. These surfaces bioimitate the carnivorous Venezuelan Pitcher Plant, which uses microscale hairs to create a water slide that causes ants to slip to their death. Slippery surfaces are finding applications in commercial products, anti-fouling surfaces, anti-icing and biofilm-resistant medical devices.