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Smart Copolymer-Functionalized Flexible Surfaces with Photoswitchable Wettability: From Superhydrophobicity with “Rose Petal” Effect to Superhydrophilicity

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journal contribution
posted on 2019-06-24, 00:00 authored by Chuanyong Zong, Mei Hu, Umair Azhar, Xu Chen, Yabin Zhang, Shuxiang Zhang, Conghua Lu
Realizing smart surfaces with switchable wettability inspired by nature continues to be fascinating as well as challenging. Herein, we present a versatile dip-coating approach to fabricate smart polymer-functionalized flexible surfaces with photoswitchable superwettability. Decorated with novel acrylate copolymers bearing a trifluoromethyl side chain and fluorine-containing azobenzene derivative moieties, the modified cotton fabric possesses a rose petal-like superhydrophobicity with contact angles larger than 150° and high water adhesion. This smart surface exhibits rapid phototriggered wettability transformation between superhydrophobicity and superhydrophilicity via alternate irradiation with ultraviolet and visible light, respectively. Meanwhile, the as-prepared flexible smart surfaces have excellent chemical and physical stabilities, which could tolerate harsh environmental conditions and repetitive mechanical deformation (e.g., stretching, curling, folding, and twisting) as well as multiple washing. More importantly, based on the excellent photocontrollability, various erasable and rewritable patterns with distinct wetting properties upon selective photoirradiation can be obtained. This simple strategy and the developed smart surface may find more advanced potential applications in controllable liquid transport, patterning droplet microarrays, and microfluidic devices.