13 May, 2020
iLab new article was published in Scientific Reports.
Title: Biomimetic Coating-free Superomniphobicity
by Ratul Das, Zain Ahmad, Jamilya Nauruzbayeva, and Himanshu Mishra.
Superomniphobic surfaces, which repel droplets of polar and apolar liquids, are used for reducing frictional drag, packaging electronics and foods, and separation processes, among other applications. These surfaces exploit perfluorocarbons that are expensive, vulnurable to physical damage, and have a long persistence in the environment. Thus, new approaches for achieving superomniphobicity from common materials are desirable. In this context, microtextures comprising “mushroom-shaped” doubly reentrant pillars (DRPs) have been shown to repel drops of polar and apolar liquids in air irrespective of the surface make-up. However, it was recently demonstrated that DRPs get instantaneously infiltrated by the same liquids on submersion because while they can robustly prevent liquid imbibition from the top, they are vulnerable to lateral imbibition. Here, we remedy this weakness through bio-inspiration derived from cuticles of Dicyrtomina ornata, soil-dwelling bugs, that contain cuboidal secondary granules with mushroom-shaped caps on each face. Towards a proof-of-concept demonstration, we created a perimeter of biomimicking pillars around arrays of DRPs using a two-photon polymerization technique; another variation of this design with a short wall passing below the side caps was investigated. The resulting gas-entrapping microtextured surfaces (GEMS) robustly entrap air on submersion in wetting liquids, while also exhibiting superomniphobicity in air. To our knowledge, this is the first-ever microtexture that confers upon intrinsically wetting materials the ability to simultaneously exhibit superomniphobicity in air and robust entrapment of air on submersion. These findings should advance the rational design of coating-free surfaces that exhibit ultra-repellence (or superomniphobicity) towards liquids.
(This figure was created by Xavier Pita, Senior Scientific Illustrator, KAUST).