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Designing Self-Healing Superhydrophobic Surfaces with Exceptional Mechanical Durability

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posted on 07.03.2017 by Kevin Golovin, Mathew Boban, Joseph M. Mabry, Anish Tuteja
The past decade saw a drastic increase in the understanding and applications of superhydrophobic surfaces (SHSs). Water beads up and effortlessly rolls off a SHS due to its combination of low surface energy and texture. Whether being used for drag reduction, stain repellency, self-cleaning, fog harvesting, or heat transfer applications (to name a few), the durability of a SHS is critically important. Although a handful of purportedly durable SHSs have been reported, there are still no criteria available for systematically designing a durable SHS. In the first part of this work, we discuss two new design parameters that can be used to develop mechanically durable SHSs via the spray coating of different binders and fillers. These parameters aid in the rational selection of material components and allow one to predict the capillary resistance to wetting of any SHS from a simple topographical analysis. We show that not all combinations of sprayable components generate SHSs, and mechanically durable components do not necessarily generate mechanically durable SHSs. Moreover, even the most durable SHSs can eventually become damaged. In the second part, utilizing our new parameters, we design and fabricate physically and chemically self-healing SHSs. The most promising surface is fabricated from a fluorinated polyurethane elastomer (FPU) and the extremely hydrophobic small molecule 1H,1H,2H,2H-heptadecafluorodecyl polyhedral oligomeric silsesquioxane (F-POSS). A sprayed FPU/F-POSS surface can recover its superhydrophobicity even after being abraded, scratched, burned, plasma-cleaned, flattened, sonicated, and chemically attacked.