Journal of Colloid and Interface Science, Vol.367, 225-233, 2012
Percolation-dominated superhydrophobicity and conductivity for nanocomposite coatings from the mixtures of a commercial aqueous silica sol and functionalized carbon nanotubes
Superhydrophobic conductive nanocomposite coatings are prepared for the first time from the simple mixture of a commercial aqueous silica sol and functionalized multiwalled carbon nanotubes (MWNTs) by air-spraying at ambient conditions followed by fluorosilane treatment. The relationship between MWNT content and the structure and properties of the nanocomposite coatings is investigated systematically. An ultra-low threshold (<5 vol.%) for superhydrophobicity is observed, which suggests that MWNTs are superior to any other spherical fillers for the construction of superhydrophobic nanocomposite coatings. When the content of nanotubes is below the threshold, the surface roughness mainly caused by the silica nanoparticles is not enough for creating superhydrophobic surfaces. Only above the threshold, the multiscale hierarchical structure is enough for both high water contact angles (>165 degrees) and extremely low sliding angles (<2 degrees). The conductivity is also percolation dominated, while the threshold for conductivity is much higher than that for superhydrophobicity, which can be ascribed to the encapsulated structure and the agglomeration of nanotubes in the composite coatings during air-spraying. Moreover, the aqueous silica sols hold merits of great film-forming capability at relatively low calcination temperatures, and being free of organic solvents. (C) 2011 Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.