Multifunctional Silica-Silicone Nanocomposite with Regenerative Superhydrophobic Capabilities.ACS Appl Mater Interfaces 2019AA
Superhydrophobic surfaces have been garnering increased interest because of their adaptive characteristics. However, concerns regarding their durability and complex fabrication techniques have limited their widespread adoption. In our study, we have developed an effective, durable, and versatile silica-silicone nanocomposite that can be applied through spray coating or bulk synthesized as superhydrophobic monoliths through a facile, economic, and scalable fabrication technique. For spray-coated samples, superhydrophobicity was achieved for concentrations above 9%. However, poor adhesion was observed for concentrations above 20%. Through extensive surface morphology studies, it was determined that a delicate balance between the polymer and dispersed superhydrophobic silica nanoparticles exists at a concentration of 14%. This concentration is necessary for developing the desired hierarchical structure and providing sufficient adhesion with the substrate. The monoliths were fabricated into complex geometries, with superhydrophobicity being observed in the 5 and 9% specimens. The hierarchical structure was formed through controlled surface abrasion, which created the microscale roughness and concurrently exposed the embedded silica nanoparticles. It was found that a monolith with a concentration of 9% provides excellent water repellency as well as a suitable emulsion viscosity to facilitate the molding process. Though compressive loading (up to 10 MPa) damages the monolith, the superhydrophobic performance can be quickly restored through abrasive layer removal. Both spray-coated and monolith specimens retained their superhydrophobicity after being subjected to high temperatures (up to 350 °C) and corrosive environments (pH 1-13) for 2 h.