When it comes to designing extremely water-repellent surfaces, shape and size matter. That's the finding of a group of scientists at the
"The idea that microscopic textures can impart a material with water-repellent properties has its origins in nature," explained Brookhaven physicist and lead author
Mimicking this self-cleaning mechanism of nature is relevant for a wide range of applications, such as non-fouling, anti-icing, and antibacterial coatings. However, engineered superhydrophobic surfaces often fail under conditions involving high temperature, pressure, and humidity--such as automotive and aircraft windshields and steam turbine power generators--when the air trapped in the texture can be prone to escape. So scientists have been looking for schemes to improve the robustness of these surfaces by delaying or preventing air escape.
Creating nanoscale textures
"In principle, the high robustness required for several applications could be achieved with texture features as small as 10 nanometers (billionths of a meter) because the pressure needed for liquid to infiltrate the texture and force the air out increases dramatically with shrinking texture size," explained Checco. "But in practice, it is difficult to shrink the surface texture features while maintaining control over their shape."
"For this work, we have developed a fabrication approach based on self assembly of nanostructures, which lets us precisely control the surface texture geometry over as large an area as we want--in principle, even as large as square meters," Checco said.
The procedure for creating these superhydrophobic nanostructured surfaces, developed in collaboration with scientists at Brookhaven's
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