Drs Graham Saunders and Steven Bell of Queen’s University School of Chemistry and Chemical Engineering, together with PhD student, Iain Larmour, have developed a very simple method for treating metals that results in extremely high hydrophobicity using readily available starting materials and standard laboratory equipment in a process that only takes a few minutes.
The significance of the discovery lies in the ease of fabrication and the flexibility of the method. Dr Saunders said, “There have been numerous attempts to emulate the extraordinary water repellency of lotus leaves, but very few synthetic surfaces can match these natural systems. Those that do are unsuitable for practical applications because they are difficult and costly to fabricate or can be applied only to a very limited number of materials. Our method produces robust surfaces displaying hydrophobicity that surpasses that of lotus leaves - ultrahydrophobicity. Furthermore the method is cheap and quick, and can be extended to a wide range of metals.”
It is the structure of lotus leaves – nanohairs on microbumps which are coated with a waxy substance – that causes the hydrophobicity and the Queen’s team’s discovery has successfully mimicked that surface structure. The process is simple. The objects to be treated are immersed in a metal-salt solution which coats them with a textured metal layer, thinner than a human hair, which resembles the structure of lotus leaves. The object is then dipped into a solution of a chemical surface-modifier, which covers the textured coating with a second, even thinner layer of water-repelling molecules. The resulting surface is so hydrophobic that water droplets deposited on the surface form almost perfect spheres and coated objects can be immersed for days but are found to be completely dry when they are pulled from the water.
The flexibility and simplicity of the approach means that the method can be applied to metal objects of any reasonable shape and size. Dr Bell said, “The team experimented with samples of various shapes and sizes and more complex metal objects, including a model of a pond skater made from copper. Pond skaters use superhydrophobic legs to walk on water, and our model, despite being 10x the mass of a pond skater of the same size, when treated, floated comfortably on water. Although this is a light-hearted example it does illustrate how readily our method can be applied.”
Future practical applications of this discovery are likely to include biomedical devices, liquid separation, and reducing turbulent flow in water-bearing pipes, among others.
Lisa Mitchell | alfa
Argon is not the 'dope' for metallic hydrogen
24.03.2017 | Carnegie Institution for Science
Researchers make flexible glass for tiny medical devices
24.03.2017 | Brigham Young University
Astronomers from Bonn and Tautenburg in Thuringia (Germany) used the 100-m radio telescope at Effelsberg to observe several galaxy clusters. At the edges of these large accumulations of dark matter, stellar systems (galaxies), hot gas, and charged particles, they found magnetic fields that are exceptionally ordered over distances of many million light years. This makes them the most extended magnetic fields in the universe known so far.
The results will be published on March 22 in the journal „Astronomy & Astrophysics“.
Galaxy clusters are the largest gravitationally bound structures in the universe. With a typical extent of about 10 million light years, i.e. 100 times the...
Researchers at the Goethe University Frankfurt, together with partners from the University of Tübingen in Germany and Queen Mary University as well as Francis Crick Institute from London (UK) have developed a novel technology to decipher the secret ubiquitin code.
Ubiquitin is a small protein that can be linked to other cellular proteins, thereby controlling and modulating their functions. The attachment occurs in many...
In the eternal search for next generation high-efficiency solar cells and LEDs, scientists at Los Alamos National Laboratory and their partners are creating...
Silicon nanosheets are thin, two-dimensional layers with exceptional optoelectronic properties very similar to those of graphene. Albeit, the nanosheets are less stable. Now researchers at the Technical University of Munich (TUM) have, for the first time ever, produced a composite material combining silicon nanosheets and a polymer that is both UV-resistant and easy to process. This brings the scientists a significant step closer to industrial applications like flexible displays and photosensors.
Silicon nanosheets are thin, two-dimensional layers with exceptional optoelectronic properties very similar to those of graphene. Albeit, the nanosheets are...
Enzymes behave differently in a test tube compared with the molecular scrum of a living cell. Chemists from the University of Basel have now been able to simulate these confined natural conditions in artificial vesicles for the first time. As reported in the academic journal Small, the results are offering better insight into the development of nanoreactors and artificial organelles.
Enzymes behave differently in a test tube compared with the molecular scrum of a living cell. Chemists from the University of Basel have now been able to...
20.03.2017 | Event News
14.03.2017 | Event News
07.03.2017 | Event News
24.03.2017 | Physics and Astronomy
24.03.2017 | Materials Sciences
24.03.2017 | Health and Medicine