A Facile in Situ and UV Printing Process for Bioinspired Self-Cleaning Surfaces
A facile in situ and UV printing process was demonstrated to create self-cleaning synthetic replica of natural petals and leaves. The process relied on the spontaneous migration of a fluorinated acrylate surfactant (PFUA) within a low-shrinkage acrylated hyperbranched polymer (HBP) and its chemical immobilization at the polymer-air interface. Dilute concentrations of 1 wt. % PFUA saturated the polymer-air interface within 30 min, leading to a ten-fold increase of fluorine concentration at the surface compared with the initial bulk concentration and a water contact angle (WCA) of 108◦. A 200 ms flash of UV light was used to chemically crosslink the PFUA at the HBP surface prior to UV printing with a polydimethylsiloxane (PDMS) negative template of red and yellow rose petals and lotus leaves. This flash immobilization hindered the reverse migration of PFUA within the bulk HBP upon contacting the PDMS template, and enabled to produce texturized surfaces with WCA well above 108◦. The synthetic red rose petal was hydrophobic (WCA of 125◦) and exhibited the adhesive petal effect. It was not superhydrophobic due to insufficient concentration of fluorine at its surface, a result of the very large increase of the surface of the printed texture. The synthetic yellow rose petal was quasi-superhydrophobic (WCA of 143◦, roll-off angle of 10◦) and its self-cleaning ability was not good also due to lack of fluorine. The synthetic lotus leaf did not accurately replicate the intricate nanotubular crystal structures of the plant. In spite of this, the fluorine concentration at the surface was high enough and the leaf was superhydrophobic (WCA of 151◦, roll-off angle below 5◦) and also featured self-cleaning properties.