IIT-G develops self-healable coating to endure complex aqueous phases

Guwahati: Researchers at Indian Institute of Technology Guwahati (IIT-G) have developed a self-healable, amphiphobic solid slippery coating, which exhibits sliding of droplets of various liquids, including water, polar and non-polar organic solvents, and can withstand prolonged exposure to various complex aqueous phases.

The IIT-G team, comprising research scholars Manideepa Dhar, Avijit Das, Dibyangana Parbat, and led by Dr Uttam Manna, associate professor, department of chemistry and Centre for Nanotechnology, developed a simple and scalable fabrication of a non-fluorinated, substrate-independent and self-healable amphiphobic solid slippery coating.

“This coating exhibits sliding of droplets of various liquids-including water, polar organic liquids such as ethanol, propanol, hexanol, etc) and non-polar (decane, dodecane, diiodomethane) solvents, edible (vegetable oil), motor, engine (petrol, diesel, kerosene) and crude oil,” a statement from IIT-G informed here on Friday.

The coating shows self-healing of repetitive (50 times) physical damages in less than one minute with the embedded slippery property remaining intact.

“Also, this surface can withstand prolonged exposure to various complex aqueous phases (pH 2, pH 12, SDS, and DTAB contaminated water, river water and sea water) and UV (ultraviolet) irradiation for 15 days. Substrate independence and scalable fabrication process are other crucial features of this current design,” the statement said.

Besides, the coating has been successfully developed on various substrates such as glass, aluminum foil, printed paper, plastic, etc., as well as geometrically complex objects like curved surfaces. The simple fabrication process also allows coating on a large glass object.

Bio-inspired surfaces where water/oil droplets effortlessly roll or slide off have enormous promise in developing materials related to energy, biomedical applications, etc.

However, due to the delicate nature of the trapped air layer in a textured surface, responsible for heterogeneous liquid wettability, these surfaces frequently fail to withstand abrasive conditions such as elevated temperature and pressure, alkaline and acidic environments, etc.

Researchers have attempted to build surfaces that are slippery to external fluids based on the slippery characteristics of the nepenthes pitcher plant.

The defect-free, ultra-smooth, lubricant-infused slippery surface has a much-needed self-repairing ability, allowing it to endure severe physical abrasions.

“However, the leaching of infused fluorinated lubricant from the surface limits the ability of the surface to be used for more extended periods and contaminates the beaded liquids. To avoid this problem of infused fluorinated lubricant leaching, the IIT-G team developed this simple and scalable fabrication of a non-fluorinated, substrate-independent, and self-healable amphiphobic solid slippery coating,” the statement said.

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