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Biomimetic Water-Repelling Surfaces with Robustly Flexible Structures

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posted on 2021-06-25, 22:30 authored by Songtao Hu, Tom Reddyhoff, Jinbang Li, Xiaobao Cao, Xi Shi, Zhike Peng, Andrew J. deMello, Daniele Dini
Biomimetic liquid-repelling surfaces have been the subject of considerable scientific research and technological application. To design such surfaces, a flexibility-based oscillation strategy has been shown to resolve the problem of liquid-surface positioning encountered by the previous, rigidity-based asymmetry strategy; however, its usage is limited by weak mechanical robustness and confined repellency enhancement. Here, we design a flexible surface comprising mesoscale heads and microscale spring sets, in analogy to the mushroomlike geometry discovered on springtail cuticles, and then realize this through three-dimensional projection microstereolithography. Such a surface exhibits strong mechanical robustness against ubiquitous normal and shear compression and even endures tribological friction. Simultaneously, the surface elevates water repellency for impacting droplets by enhancing impalement resistance and reducing contact time, partially reaching an improvement of ∼80% via structural tilting movements. This is the first demonstration of flexible interfacial structures to robustly endure tribological friction as well as to promote water repellency, approaching real-world applications of water repelling. Also, a flexibility gradient is created on the surface to directionally manipulate droplets, paving the way for droplet transport.