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Ultrastable Underwater Anti-Oil Fouling Coatings from Spray Assemblies of Polyelectrolyte Grafted Silica Nanochains

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posted on 2019-03-28, 18:33 authored by Zhiwei Liao, Gaoxiang Wu, Daeyeon Lee, Shu Yang
Surfaces that have superhydrophilic characteristics are known to exhibit extreme oil repellency under water, which is attractive for applications including anti-fogging, water–oil separations, and self-cleaning. However, superhydrophilic surfaces can also be easily fouled and lose their extreme oil repellency, which limits their usage in practical applications. In this work, we create an anti-oil fouling coating by spray coating poly­(acrylic acid) (PAA)-grafted SiO2 nanochains (approximately 45 nm wide and 300 nm long) onto solid surfaces, forming a nanoporous film exhibiting superhydrophilicity (water contact angle in air ≈ 0°) and underwater superoleophobicity (dichloroethane contact angle ≥ 165°). The polymer-grafted nanochain assemblies exhibit extremely low contact angle hysteresis (<1°) and small adhesion hysteresis (−0.05 mN m–1), and thus, oil can readily roll off from the surface when the coating is immersed in water. Compared to other superhydrophilic surfaces, we show that both the unique structure of spray-assembled nanochains and the hygroscopic nature of PAA are essential to enable ultrastable anti-oil fouling. Even after the PAA-grafted nanochain coating is purposely fouled by oil, oil can be readily and completely expelled and lifted-off from the coating within 10 s when placed under water. Further, we show that our coating retains underwater superoleophobicity even after being subjected to shearing under water for more than 168 h. Our approach offers a simple yet versatile method to create an ultrastable superhydrophilic and anti-oil fouling coating via a scalable manufacturing method.

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