Micro & nanoscale surface structures: Creating Super-hydrophobic Materials

Micro & nanoscale surface structures: Creating Super-hydrophobic Materials
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Guo and Anatoliy Vorobyev, from University of Rochester’s Institute of Optics, published recently a paper in the Journal of Applied Physics, which describes a technique to turns metals into super-hydrophobic. The process relies on a laser-patterning technique that creates an intricate pattern of micro- and nanoscale structures to give the metals their new properties. In precedent work, the team showed a technique to turn metals black, allowing to envision metals with highly-absorbent optical properties.

According to Guo, “the structures created by our laser on the metals are intrinsically part of the material surface.” That means they won’t rub off. And it is these patterns that make the metals repel water. “The material is so strongly water-repellent, the water actually gets bounced off. Then it lands on the surface again, gets bounced off again, and then it will just roll off from the surface,” says Guo, a professor of optics. That whole process takes less than a second.

The difference is that to make water to roll-off a Teflon coated material, you need to tilt the surface to nearly a 70-degree angle before the water begins to slide off. You can make water roll off Guo’s metals by tilting them less than five degrees.

The applications seem limitless from plane wings that won’t freeze, rain collection in developing countries, cleaner surfaces for medical, anti-corrosive materials. Nevertheless, the industrialization of the process still require additional work; currently it takes an hour to pattern a 1 inch by 1 inch metal sample. Guo’s team is now planning on focusing on increasing the speed of patterning the surfaces with the laser, as well as studying how to expand this technique to other materials such as semiconductors or dielectrics, opening up the possibility of water repellent electronics.

Source: Futurity / Original Study: Multifunctional surfaces produced by femtosecond laser pulses
Photo & Video Credits: J. Adam Fenster/University of Rochester