Susanna Laurén Dec 24, ’19 > 2 min

What are superhydrophobic surfaces?

Superhydrophobicity and superhydrophobic surfaces have become a buzz word used to describe all kinds of surfaces with high wettability. In the internet, you can find numerous examples of coatings and materials claimed to be superhydrophobic. Some of them probably are but many are just hydrophobic.

Superhydrophobic surface is defined by having the static water contact angle above 150 ° and contact angle hysteresis less than 5 °.

Superhydrophobicity was found first in nature

The superhydrophobicity was first observed in nature on lotus leaf and some other plant leaves that would not get wet.superhydrophobic lotus leaf

The term lotus effect is sometimes used to refer to self-cleaning properties that are the result of superhydrophobicity. If an electron microscopy image of a lotus leaf is taken, you would see that the surface of the lotus leaf is pretty rough. In addition, to that roughness, the surface of the leaf is covered with a wax-like material. Together, those two properties make the surface superhydrophobic.

Superhydrophobic surfaces require non-wetting chemistry and surface roughness

Since the discovery of the superhydrophobicity, there has been numerous examples where these types of surfaces are made artificially on various materials. As already discussed, there are two properties required for superhydrophobicity; non-wetting chemistry and micro- and/or nanostructured topography.

Superhydrophobicity explained

The non-wetting chemistry typically comes from fluoropolymer coatings. Most typical fluoropolymer, Teflon®, has the highest contact angle for smooth surface which is around 120 °. It is then clear that the surface chemistry alone is not enough to make surface superhydrophobic, but roughness is also required. The roughness requirement makes the surfaces often non-durable which is the biggest challenge in terms of their usage in different applications.

webinar   Superhydrophobic surfaces  —from lab to real life applications

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