Rational Design of Hyperbranched Nanowire Systems for Tunable Superomniphobic Surfaces Enabled by Atomic Layer Deposition

Superomniphobic surfaces display contact angles of θ* > 150° and low contact angle hysteresis with virtually all high and low surface tension liquids. The introduction of hierarchical scales of texture can increase the contact angles and decrease the contact angle hysteresis of superomniphobic surfaces by reducing the solid–liquid contact area. Thus far, it has not been possible to fabricate superomniphobic surfaces with three or more hierarchical scales of texture where the size, spacing, and angular orientation of features within each scale of texture can be independently varied and controlled. Here, we report a method for tunable control of geometry in hyperbranched ZnO nanowire (NW) structures, which in turn enables the rational design and fabrication of superomniphobic surfaces. Branched NWs with tunable density and orientation were grown <i>via</i> a sequential hydrothermal process, in which atomic layer deposition was used for NW seeding, disruption of epitaxy, and selective blocking of NW nucleation. This approach allows for the rational design and optimization of three-level hierarchical structures, in which the geometric parameters of each level of hierarchy can be individually controlled. We demonstrate the coupled relationships between geometry and contact angles for a variety of liquids, which is supported by mathematical models. The highest performing superomniphobic surface was designed with three levels of hierarchy and achieved the following advancing/receding contact angles with water 172°/170°, hexadecane 166°/156°, octane 162°/145°, and heptane 160°/130°.