Open access paper: Durable, superoleophobic polymer-nanoparticle composite surfaces with re-entrant geometry via solvent-induced phase transformation

Key results

  • Report on a new method for improving superoleophobic surface adhesion using nanoscale re-entrant structures
  • Re-entrant structures show improved adhesion of nano particles
  • AFM-IR spectra and AFM topography confirm results of testing on new method

Key words

AFM-IR | Nano-particle | Polycarbonate | superoleophobic | nanoFTIR


Superoleophobic plastic surfaces are useful in a wide variety of applications including anti-fouling, self-cleaning, anti-smudge, and low-drag. Existing examples of superoleophobic surfaces typically rely on poorly adhered coatings or delicate surface structures, resulting in poor mechanical durability. Here, we report a facile method for creating re-entrant geometries desirable for superoleophobicity via entrapment of nanoparticles in polycarbonate surfaces.

Nanoparticle incorporation occurs during solvent-induced swelling and subsequent crystallization of the polymer surface. The resulting surface was found to comprise of re-entrant structures, a result of the nanoparticle agglomerates acting as nucleation points for polymer crystallization. Examples of such surfaces were further functionalized with fluorosilane to result in a durable, super-repellent surface.

This method of impregnating nanoparticles into polymer surfaces could prove useful in improving the anti-bacterial, mechanical, and liquid-repellent properties of plastic devices.

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The AFM map displays the untextured region (A) and the re-entrant hierarchical structures (B–D) selected for IR analysis. The FTIR spectra confirm that polycarbonate is present in all regions and that the polymer crystallinity increases on the re-entrant hierarchical structures, suggesting solvent-induced polymer recrystallization occurs primarily on the nanoparticle agglomerates.
Sci. Rep. 6, 21048; doi: 10.1038/srep21048 (2016)