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A Bioinspired Flexible Film Fabricated by Surface-Tension-Assisted Replica Molding for Dynamic Control of Unidirectional Liquid Spreading

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journal contribution
posted on 2019-12-11, 18:10 authored by Zeming Li, Deyuan Zhang, Dongyue Wang, Liwen Zhang, Lin Feng, Xiangyu Zhang
The unidirectional liquid spreading without external energy input has presently aroused widespread concern. Recently, on the peristome of Nepenthes alata, a novel 2D unidirectional liquid spreading has been reported. It has been revealed that its exquisite superhydrophilic multistage microstructure, overlapping microcavities with arc-shaped edges and wedge-shaped corners, is the main reason for this phenomenon. To fabricate a peristome-inspired surface, a replica molding method is highly efficient and provides an ideal structure. However, the curved shape of the finally formed surface cannot be adjusted, and a specific surface shows only one type of liquid spreading state, greatly limiting its potential application. Here, we aimed to develop a novel surface-tension-assisted replica molding method to fabricate an artificial peristome film. The artificial peristome film was fabricated by pouring styrenic block copolymers (SBS) dissolved in organic solvents into a negative replica prepared in polydimethyl­siloxane (PDMS), based on the natural peristome. With volatilizing the organic solvent, the SBS agglomerates formed an artificial peristome film via surface tension effects. More importantly, the PDMS-negative replica swelled in the organic solvent and then returned to the original size, which is conducive for replicating microstructures. The liquid spreading speed could be dynamically controlled by stretching the artificial peristome film. We demonstrated that the microcavity wedge angle decreases with an increasing stretching ratio. A smaller wedge angle can result in a much stronger unidirectional liquid spreading ability. This study provides insight into the dynamic control of unidirectional liquid spreading for novel pump-free medical microfluidic devices.