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Superslippery Liquid-Repellent Surfaces

Periodic Reporting for period 2 - SuperRepel (Superslippery Liquid-Repellent Surfaces)

Reporting period: 2018-12-01 to 2020-05-31

Hydrophobic surfaces have significant potential for improvement, by making them more repellent. Furthermore, current methods and instruments are not accurate enough for their characterization, and there is a need to improve on that. Repellent surfaces are important for society as these surfaces do not get wet, and also have anti-fogging and anti-icing features. In the SuperRepel project, we aim to develop the next-generation of hydrophobic surfaces, to develop new methodologies to measure them, and to demonstrate novel applications for them.
We have purchased an instrument for the preparation of new hydrophobic surfaces. It has been installed, tested and the first surfaces have been made.
We have made major achievements that enabled us to publish in journals of highest visibility, including Science, Nature Communications and Nature Protocols. We have described the community-wide problem of contact angle inaccuracy (Science 2019 + Soft Matter 2019). We have developed Scanning Droplet Adhesion Microscopy (SDAM) as a highly sensitive tool for measuring surface wetting based on droplet adhesion forces (Nature Communications 2017). The company Anton Paar recognised our achievement of SDAM with the Research Award for Instrumental Analytics and Characterization. We have developed a different tool called Scanning Droplet Tribometer for measuring surface wetting (ERC PoC project). We are developing high-quality hydrophobic surfaces (ongoing work). We have reported a protocol for contact angle measurements that will facilitate standardization of measurements (Nature Protocols 2018).
We have progressed well on different fronts and expect to be able to improve on the synthesis of hydrophobic surfaces. We are working on entirely new methods for wetting characterization that are much more accurate than the current standard, and that have potential for commercialization. I have received ERC PoC funding to explore this commercial potential.I expect that by the end of the project new types of surfaces will be developed that lead to new levels of repellency, and that could allow entirely new applications. The project has already resulted in important scientific outputs, and I anticipate this to continue in the coming years.
Droplets rolling on a superhydrophobic surface (Photo by Mika Latikka).