Developing Strong Superhydrophobic Coatings

A team of researchers from the University of Michigan has developed a self-healing, water-repellant coating that is hundreds of times more durable than its counterparts.

The researchers believe this development could help enable waterproof vehicles, clothing, rooftops, and other surfaces – something that current hydrophobic coatings struggle with due to their fragility.

“Thousands of superhydrophobic surfaces have been looked at over the past 20 or 30 years, but nobody has been able to figure out how to systematically design one that’s durable,” says Anish Tuteja, co-author of the study. “I think that’s what we’ve really accomplished here, and it’s going to open the door for other researchers to create cheaper, perhaps even better superhydrophobic coatings.”

This from the University of Michigan:

The coating is made of a mix of a material called “fluorinated polyurethane elastomer” and a specialized water-repellent molecule known as “F-POSS.” It can be easily sprayed onto virtually any surface and has a slightly rubbery texture that makes it more resilient than its predecessors.

If it is damaged, the coating can heal itself hundreds of times. It can bounce back “even after being abraded, scratched, burned, plasma-cleaned, flattened, sonicated and chemically attacked,” the researchers wrote in a paper recently published in ACS Applied Materials & Interfaces.

Read the full article.

“Most materials science researchers have focused on identifying one specific chemical system that’s as durable and water-repellent as possible,” Tuteja says. “We approached the problem differently, by measuring and mapping out the basic chemical properties that make a water-repellent coating durable. And some of the results surprised us.”

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