Imagine a Stain Free Life! 'Superhydrophobic' coating is your answer.
- The nuisance of Stains
- The self-cleaning "lotus effect" exhibited by the Nature
- How its made?
- The Superlative features of the discovery
- A revolution in the field of Nano-Tech
Have you ever experienced a near heart attack by the hands of a guest who accidentally dropped the spaghetti sauce off the table, splashing it all over your deluxe Persian Rug. Or when a hideous oil stain clings like ivy to the exterior of your car, making you realize how helpless and vulnerable you are to the world of enduring Stains. Many efforts have been made to encounter the nightmarish consequences of the contumelious stains. Cynically, for one reason or the other, the protective measures haven’t been able to earn the acceptance among the commoners. The overpriced tags and the unreliable results are the major reason for their repudiation. Nevertheless, a contemporary research has provided an astounding discovery that has enabled the researchers to develop a 'Superhydrophobic' form of coating that is effectively resistant to wetting. The added feature to repel hydrocarbon based oil products has provided it a unique standing among its predecessors. But what really makes it sui generis is its ingenious manufacturing design that cuts its cost substantially.
Lotus effect, aka high water repellence, is the characteristic feature exhibited by various organisms in nature that results in self-cleaning properties. More commonly observed in the lotus leaves (thereby giving it the name “lotus effect”) or butterfly wings, the ability to repel water naturally provoked the researchers to thoroughly analyze their structural built. Relentless efforts in research ultimately provided photographic patterns of a rough, micro leveled texture on the surfaces of these organisms that traps air beneath the liquid droplet. The research provided adept resources to mimic the pattern and produce a water repellent “hydrophobic” surface by following a simple procedure.
Image Courtesy: en.wikipedia.org
Jia Min Chin and other research fellows from the A*STAR Institute in Singapore have been able to articulate a simple procedure to synthesize surfaces, making them repellent to different forms of liquids. Providing suitable synthetic conditions, the researchers were able to yield a spontaneous needle growth on a surface, forming a rough pattern with numerous trapped air pockets. They used a compound named metal-organic frameworks (MOFs) that is actually a hybrid connection of metals with hydrocarbons. Under the provision of high temperature and pressure conditions, perpendicularly aligned needles were produced on the surfaces. The aligned needle surface resembled the exterior of the organisms exhibiting the lotus effect, hence making the surface “hydrophobic” or water repellent.
Learn more about "Hydrophobic" here.
What makes it “Super”hydrophobic
Although nature was the major contributor in this astounding discovery, however, a hoax unfamiliar to the nature was the ability to repel hydrocarbon products such as oils. Hydrocarbon compounds have a lower surface tension than water, tending them to spread out rather than beading up. The team, after redundant researches was finally able to formulate a strategy to augment the structure in order to make the interface more stable in repelling the hydrocarbons effectively. To achieve this, the yielded needles were further extended from the tips in a controlled environment, thereby expanding them into mushroom-like caps. The surface could now hold in-built air gaps itself, which were previously trapped by the liquid instead. This enables the surface to repel more adhesive materials such as oil, to stick to the surface.
Image Courtesy: ferasah.com
The pioneer of the idea, Chin proclaimed that the remarkable discovery produced results that were previously limited to facilities with expensive, high-tech equipment. "Our aim was to develop simple techniques for fabricating interesting structures which are accessible to scientists around the world," she said.
The discovery is inevitably a benchmark in the field of nano-materials technology and can invariably provide smarter, more feasible solutions to the problems in our daily lives.
The research journal can be found here.