Polymer Engineering Faculty Research


A Facile Method for Preparing Sticky Hydrophobic Polymer Surfaces

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Textured surfaces consisting of nanometer- to micrometer-sized lightly sulfonated polystyrene ionomer (SPS) particles were prepared by rapid evaporation of the solvent from a dilute polymer solution-cast onto silica. The particle textured ionomer surfaces were prepared by either spin-coating or solution-casting ionomer solutions at controlled evaporation rates. The effects of the solvent used to spin-coat the film, the molecular weight of the ionomer, and the rate of solvent evaporation on the surface morphology of cast films were investigated. The surface morphologies were consistent with a spinodal decomposition mechanism, where the surface first existed as a percolated-like structure and then ripened into droplets if molecular mobility was retained for sufficient time. The SPS particles or particle aggregates were robust and resisted separation from the surface even after annealing at 120 °C for 1 week. The water contact angles on as-prepared surfaces were relatively low, 90°, due to the polar groups in the ionomer, but when the surface was modified by chemical vapor deposition of 1H,1H,2H,2H-perfluorooctyltrichlorosilane, the surface contact angles increased to 109° on smooth surfaces and up to 140° on the textured surfaces. Although the surfaces were hydrophobic, the contact angle hysteresis was relatively high and water droplets stuck to these surfaces even when the surface was turned upside down.

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