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Periodic Report Summary 1 - DYNASLIPS (Dynamic Flow Control and Self-Assembly on Bioinspired Slippery Surfaces)

Slippery Liquid-Infused Porous Surfaces (SLIPS) are surfaces with exceptional liquid-repellent, anti-icing and antibiofouling properties. Inspired by pitcher plants (Nepenthes), they are based on micro/nanoporous and/or texturized solids that are infused with lubricating liquids (Nature 477, 443-447, 2011). They are solid-liquid hybrid surfaces, wherein the porous solid withholds the lubricating liquid by means of physical and chemical forces. In this Marie Curie project, we investigate different dynamic processes on SLIPS (hence the acronym “DynaSLIPS”). These objectives include realization of flow control of droplets, understanding of dissipative processes on moving droplets, and self-assembly of droplets and colloidal objects on SLIPS.

So far, we have achieved flow control by two different approaches: by using ferrofluid as lubricants and by using electrodes as sources of electric field gradients. In the first case, the motion and concentration of the lubricant can be controlled with magnetic field, leading to lubrication gradients that translate into preferential motion of droplets in certain directions. In the second case, electric fields created by the electrodes attract and induce assembly of dielectric objects. We have also developed new combinations of research tools that allow us to probe friction and stability of the lubricant layer on SLIPS. We have applied these tools to a wide range of SLIPS types where we alter micro/nanostructure size/shape/spacing, lubricant chemistry, and composition of the sliding droplets. As a main result, we have investigated and shown how the lubricant layer stability affects dissipation on SLIPS. We have also investigated self-assembly of both microscopic and macroscopic objects on SLIPS. Results show that self-assembly of both colloidal matter and droplets on SLIPS can be controlled with physical and chemical forces.

By the end of this project, we will have a good understanding of friction and dissipation mechanisms on SLIPS and how those can be minimized. This will enable rational design of SLIPS for real-world applications related to preveting wetting and contamination of surfaces. We will also have better tools for controlling droplet flow on SLIPS with electric and magnetic fields. These tools may find use in digital microfluidics and droplet-based analysis techniques. We will also have improved understanding of behavior of colloidal matter and living micro-organisms on SLIPS. These results will have direct implications on utilization of SLIPS as slippery and antibiofouling coatings that are crucially needed in many fields of engineering ranging from biomedical research to transport industries.

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Life Sciences
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