Langmuir, Vol.27, No.23, 14419-14424, 2011
Metal Matrix Composites for Sustainable Lotus-Effect Surfaces
The lotus effect involving roughness-induced superhydrophobicity is a way to design nonwetting self-cleaning, omniphobic, icephobic, and antifouling surfaces. However, such surfaces require micropatterning, which is extremely vulnerable to even small wear rates. This limits the applicability of the lotus effects to situations when wear is practically absent. To design sustainable superhydrophobic surfaces, we suggest using metal matrix composites (MMCs) with hydrophobic reinforcement in the bulk of the material, rather than only at its surface. Such surfaces, if properly designed, provide roughness and heterogeneity needed for superhydrophobicity. In addition, they are sustainable, since when the surface layer is deteriorated and removed due to wear, hydrophobic reinforcement and roughness remains. We present a model and experimental data on wetting of MMCs. We also conducted selected experiments with graphite-reinforced MMCs and showed that the contact angle can be determined from the model. In order to decouple the effects of reinforcement and roughness, the experiments were conducted for initially smooth and etched matrix and composite materials.