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Ultrafast Flame-Induced Pyrolysis of Poly(dimethylsiloxane) Foam Materials toward Exceptional Superhydrophobic Surfaces and Reliable Mechanical Robustness

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posted on 06.05.2021, 14:35 by Guo-Dong Zhang, Zhi-Hao Wu, Qiao-Qi Xia, Yong-Xiang Qu, Hong-Tao Pan, Wan-Jun Hu, Li Zhao, Kun Cao, Er-Yu Chen, Zhou Yuan, Jie-Feng Gao, Yiu-Wing Mai, Long-Cheng Tang
Superhydrophobic surfaces are imperative in flexible polymer foams for diverse applications; however, traditional surface coatings on soft skeletons are often fragile and can hardly endure severe deformation, making them unstable and highly susceptible to cyclic loadings. Therefore, it remains a great challenge to balance their mutual exclusiveness of mechanical robustness and surface water repellency on flexible substrates. Herein, we describe how robust superhydrophobic surfaces on soft poly­(dimethylsiloxane) (PDMS) foams can be achieved using an extremely simple, ultrafast, and environmentally friendly flame scanning strategy. The ultrafast flame treatment (1–3 s) of PDMS foams produces microwavy and nanosilica rough structures bonded on the soft skeletons, forming robust superhydrophobic surfaces (i.e., water contact angles (WCAs) > 155° and water sliding angles (WSAs) < 5°). The rough surface can be effectively tailored by simply altering the flame scanning speed (2.5–15.0 cm/s) to adjust the thermal pyrolysis of the PDMS molecules. The optimized surfaces display reliable mechanical robustness and excellent water repellency even after 100 cycles of compression of 60% strain, stretching of 100% strain, and bending of 90° and hostile environmental conditions (including acid/salt/alkali conditions, high/low temperatures, UV aging, and harsh cyclic abrasion). Moreover, such flame-induced superhydrophobic surfaces are easily peeled off from ice and can be healable even after severe abrasion cycles. Clearly, the flame scanning strategy provides a facile and versatile approach for fabricating mechanically robust and surface superhydrophobic PDMS foam materials for applications in complex conditions.