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Bioinspired nanoparticle spray-coating for superhydrophobic flexible materials with oil/water separation capabilities
Nicasio R Geraldi, Linzi E Dodd, Ben B Xu, David Wood, Gary G Wells, Glen McHale, Michael I Newton

Published: 02 February 2018 by IOP Publishing in Bioinspiration & Biomimetics
IOP Publishing, Volume 13; 10.1088/1748-3190/aaa1c1
Abstract: Much of the inspiration for the creation of superhydrophobic surfaces has come from nature, from plant such as the Sacred Lotus (Nulembo nucifera), where the micro-scale papillae epidermal cells on the surfaces of the leaves are covered with nano-scale epicuticular wax crystalloids. The combination of the surface roughness and the hydrophobic wax coating produces a superhydrophobic wetting state on the leaves allowing them to self-clean and easily shed water. Here a simple scale-up carbon nanoparticle spray coating is presented that mimics the surface of the Sacred Lotus leaves and can be applied to a wide variety of materials, complex structures, and flexible substrates, rendering them superhydrophobic, with contact angles above 160°. The sprayable mixture is produced by combining toluene, polydimethylsiloxane (PDMS), and inherently hydrophobic rapeseed soot. The ability to spray the superhydrophobic coating allows for the hydrophobisation of complex structures such a metallic meshes, which allows for the production of flexible porous superhydrophobic materials that when formed into U-shape channels, can be used to direct flows. The porous meshes, whilst being superhydrophobic, are also oleophilic. Being both superhydrophobic and oleophilic allows oil to pass through the mesh, whilst water remains on the surface. The meshes were tested for their ability to separate mixtures of oil and water in a flow situation. When silicone oil/water mixtures were passed over the meshes, all meshes tested were capable of separating more than 95% of the oil from the mixture.
Keywords: contact angles, oil/water, polydimethylsiloxane, sacred, silicone, soot, Superhydrophobic Coating, surface roughness, Nanoparticle Spray
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