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Published on : Nov 21, 2017

Superhydrophobic surfaces have generated marked interest worldwide for everyday applications, particularly for functional coatings. They are highly promising for manufacturing coatings that possess non-wetting and low-friction properties. Since structuring of these surfaces for functional coatings occurs on nano- to micro- scale, current fabrication methods increase the fragility of the surfaces and render them sensitive to abrasion. This has limited their use for real-life applications. To overcome these constraints and improve their practical use, researchers at Karlsruhe Institute of Technology (KIT) in collaboration with Institute of Microstructure Technology (IMT), Germany, developed a novel material of transparent fluorinated polymer foam and demonstrated their vast applicability in real-word environments.

Termed as Fluoropor, the material is micro-structured throughout the bulk, unlike the currently available superhydrophobic surfaces characeterized by delicate structuring only at the surface. The novel material is introduced in an article published on November 8, 2017 in Nature Scientific Reports.

Photo-Induced Radical Polymerization Key to Material Engineering

To achieve the unique oil- and water-repellent surface properties found in the transparent fluorinated polymer foam creates, scientists combine the properties of fluoropolymers. Fluoropor can be made in one step in varying thicknesses via photo-induced radical polymerization. The tiny pored at the foam-like structuring have wavelength below that of the visible light, making it largely optical transparent and hence apt for applicability on glass surfaces.  Scratching the surface may lead to loss of transparency of the material; however, the surface polishing with a microfiber cloth cam help regain the loss.

Incredible Insensitivity to Abrasion makes Fluoropor Apt for Functional Structured Coating

Coatings made of Fluoropor materials also bode favorably for wide industrial applicability, since these are immune to dramatic abrasion, including induced by sandpaper scratching, and are wear-tolerant. The novel material can be synthesized using components easily available and can be applied to metal, polymers, or textiles. Of note, the development activities are funded by the Federal Ministry of Education and Research, Germany under the aegis NanoMatFutur.