Robust Superhydrophobic Silicon without a Low Surface-Energy Hydrophobic Coating

Superhydrophobic surfaces without low surface-energy (hydrophobic) modification such as silanization or (fluoro)­polymer coatings are crucial for water-repellent applications that need to survive under harsh UV or IR exposures and mechanical abrasion. In this work, robust low-hysteresis superhydrophobic surfaces are demonstrated using a novel hierarchical silicon structure without a low surface-energy coating. The proposed geometry produces superhydrophobicity out of silicon that is naturally hydrophilic. The structure is composed of collapsed silicon nanowires on top and bottom of T-shaped micropillars. Collapsed silicon nanowires cause superhydrophobicity due to nanoscale air pockets trapped below them. T-shaped micropillars significantly decrease the water contact angle hysteresis because microscale air pockets are trapped between them and can not easily escape. Robustness is studied under mechanical polishing, high-energy photoexposure, high temperature, high-pressure water shower, and different acidic and solvent environments. Mechanical abrasion damages the nanowires on top of micropillars, but those at the bottom survive. Small increase of hysteresis is seen, but the surface is still superhydrophobic after abrasion.