Novel Method Fabricates Eco-Friendly Waterproof Polymer Films

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Researchers from Myongji University develop a new method to control the wettability of polymeric substrates

A team of researchers from the Department of Chemistry at Myongji University devised a new approach to control the surface interaction of polymeric substrates with liquids. The nano-sized polymer thin films with controlled wettability was fabricated with the help of an environmentally friendly method. The lead author, Dong Kee Yi discovered a method that controls surface wettability of wavy patterned two-dimensional poly(dimethylsiloxane) (PDMS) films. To achieve this controlled wettability the method combines colloidal self-assembly and controlled strained-releasing. The method demonstrates that the surface wettability of wavy patterned polymer thin films can be tuned with the help of details of the grooved geometries on the surface of the films.

The team found time-dependent reversible wettability in the wavy PDMS films, which was attributed to the reversible surface chemistry of PDMS. The team applied buckling nature of the pre-strained polymers to the fabrication of second layer of wavy polymers. This resulted in surface hydrophobicity on different geometries. Controlled wettability of polymeric substrates facilitates development of flexible, highly functional materials that find application in the arraying and ordering of biological cells along with formation of hydrophobic nano-films for wearable devices and preparation of regenerative cell scaffolds, water repellent fabrics, and for self-cleaning adhesives.

According Dr. Yi, the novel approach can be used in various nano-size polymer thin film fabrication with controlled surface hydrophobicity and it can eliminate the use of any potential toxic chemical treatments. This research was supported by the Korean NRF, Korea Institute of Energy Technology Evaluation and Planning (KETEP) and Ministry of Trade, Industry and Energy (MOTIE) of the Republic of Korea. The research titled as ‘Control of Wettability Using Regularly Ordered Two-Dimensional Polymeric Wavy Substrates’ was published in the journal NANO on October 12, 2018.

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Latisha Diaz is a general assignment reporter at Plains Gazette. She has covered sports, entertainment and many other beats in his journalism career, and has lived in City Houston for more than 8 years. Latisha has appeared periodically on national television shows and has been published in (among others) The National Post, Politico, The Atlantic, Harper’s, Wired.com, Vice and Salon.com.