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Copper Oxide Microtufts on Natural Fractals for Efficient Water Harvesting

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posted on 11.03.2021, 21:48 by Vipul Sharma, Harri Ali-Löytty, Anastasia Koivikko, Kyriacos Yiannacou, Kimmo Lahtonen, Veikko Sariola
Hierarchical surfaces that aid in the droplet nucleation, growth, and removal is highly desirable for fog and moisture harvesting applications. Taking inspiration from the unique architecture of leaf skeletons, we present a multiscale surface capable of rapidly nucleating, growing, and directional transport of the water droplets. Copper oxide microtufts were fabricated onto the Ficus religiosa leaf skeletons via electroplating and chemical oxidation techniques. The fabricated surfaces with microtufts had high wettability and very good fog harvesting ability. CuO surfaces tend to become hydrophobic over time because of the adsorption of the airborne species. The surfaces were efficient in fog harvesting even when the hydrophobic coating is present. The overall water collection efficiencies were determined, and the role of the microtufts, fractal structures, and the orientation of leaf veins was investigated. Compared to the planar control surfaces, the noncoated and hydrophobic layer-coated copper oxide microtufts on the leaf skeletons displayed a significant increase in the fog harvesting efficiency. For superhydrophilic skeleton surfaces, the water collection rate was also observed to slightly vary with the vein orientation. The CuO microtufts along with high surface area fractals allowed an effective and sustainable way to capture and transport water. The study is expected to provide valuable insights into the design and fabrication of sustainable and efficient fog harvesting systems.