Wednesday, March 10, 2010


Teflon is a fascinating thing. Formally known as polytetrafluoroethylene, or PTFE, it's a high-weight molecular solid. That is, it forms really really long chains. Each chain is made up of units of one carbon and 2 fluorine atoms; each chain link connects to two others via the carbon atom.

It's a polymer of Tetrafluorethylene, hence the name. Because the two end units have three only one other carbon to connect to instead of two, each has an extra fluorine attached, so the fluorines outnumber the carbons by two. Hence, the molecular formula CnFn+2.

Because of the strength of the fluorine-carbon bonds, and the ability of the massed fluorines to disperse attractive forces, it reacts with almost nothing, and sticks to nothing. It makes excellent non-stick cookware, containers for reactive substances, seal tape for pipe threads, bullets that don't damage the gun, sliders for heavy objects, and water repellant in Gore-Tex.

It's also so slippery that insects can't get a grip on it, so it's used for things like bug traps. In fact, it's the only substance that geckos cannot grip to.

Teflon: The Anti-Gecko.


Sascha Grant said...

How do they get Teflon to stick to the inside of frypans???

The EGE said...

They sandblast the pan to make scratches, then the first layer of teflon holds in the pits and scratches. The you can spray more teflon on, cause the one thing it sticks to... is itself.

Sascha Grant said...

Ah! LOL.

Hey, happy birthday!!