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This Crazy New Material Switches From Super Hydrophobic to Super Hydrophilic in an Instant
This has so many exciting applications.
5 AUG 2017
Scientists have created a material that can switch between repelling and absorbing water droplets at the flick of a switch.
The copper based material can go from super hydrophobic (water hating) to super hydrophilic (water loving) in a matter of seconds and could be used for water filtration, biomedical devices, liquid lenses and smart self-cleaning surfaces.
Super hydrophobicity is something that's incredibly satisfying to watch. We've seen hydrophobic knives slice through water with ease, cause water to bounce off surfaces like tennis balls and you'd be lying if you said that watching super hydrophobic materials on YouTube didn't fill a hole in your life you didn't know existed.
And on the other side of the coin, super hydrophilicity is used to pull drinking water straight from the air and used to create self-cleaning glass.
But what about a material that can switch between both of these properties?
In the past, scientist have attempted to make these type of materials with heat treatment or bombarding the copper with UV and X-rays but the treatment takes hours or days and severely limits the applications.
This new study creates a material that can switch properties in seconds – instead of hours – and it'll surprise you with how simple it turned out to be.
The scientists used a copper based surface which changes from water loving to water hating by simply changing the voltage applied across the surface. The voltage required to change the properties of the surface is as low as 1.5 volts – lower than that found in a normal household battery.
"When tiny voltages are applied to the surface, water droplets that initially roll off stick to it more and more tightly," says Ben Zahiri, one of the researchers, from the University of British Columbia (UBC).
"By changing the magnitude of the voltage and how long it is applied, we can easily control the angle that each droplet forms with the surface and how quickly this happens."
The copper is deposited on a surface by a process called electrodeposition, which causes the copper to grow like an array of Christmas trees.
(More at link...)
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