A schematic representation of how the surface looks, and how the structure repels water. Credit: Aalto University Superhydrophobic surfaces repel water like nothing else. This makes them extremely useful for antimicrobial coatings, as bacteria, viruses and other pathogens cannot cling to their surfaces. However, superhydrophobic surfaces have one major flaw—they are extremely susceptible to cuts, scratches or dents. If a superhydrophobic surface gets damaged, the damaged area can trap liquids and the benefits of the coating are lost. Now, however, a collaboration between researchers in China and Finland has developed an armour-plated superhydrophobic surface which can take repeated battering from sharp and blunt objects, and still repel liquids with world-record effectiveness.
The research—which is the cover feature of this week’s issue of Nature – has designed superhydrophobic surfaces that can be made out of metal, glass, or ceramic. The superhydrophobic properties of the surface come from nano-sized structures spread all over it. The trick is to pattern the surface of the material with a honeycomb-like structure of tiny inverted pyramids. The fragile water-repellent chemical is then coated on the inside the honeycomb. This prevents any liquid from sticking to the surface, and the fragile chemical coating is protected from damage […]
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