Polymer Engineering Faculty Research

UVO-tunable superhydrophobic to superhydrophilic wetting transition on biomimetic nanostructured surfaces

Alamgir Karim


A novel strategy for a tunable sigmoidal wetting transition from superhydrophobicity to superhydrophilicity on a continuous nanostructured hybrid film via gradient UV-ozone (UVO) exposure is presented. Along a single wetting gradient surface (40 mm), we could visualize the superhydrophobic (thetaH2O > 165 degrees and low contact angle hysteresis) transition (165 degrees > thetaH2O > 10 degrees ) and superhydrophilic (thetaH2O < 10 degrees within 1 s) regions simply through the optical images of water droplets on the surface. The film is prepared through layer-by-layer assembly of negatively charged silica nanoparticles (11 nm) and positively charged poly(allylamine hydrochloride) with an initial deposition in a fractal manner. The extraordinary wetting transition on chemically modified nanoparticle layered surfaces with submicrometer- to micrometer-scale pores represents a competition between the chemical wettability and hierarchical roughness of surfaces as often occurs in nature (e.g., lotus leaves, insect wings, etc).