A KU researcher has developed a superomniphobic (superhydrophobic and superoleophobic) coating material that is self-healing when damaged and retains its super-repellency.
Super-repellent, or superomniphobic, coatings have numerous applications from waterproofing to anti-fingerprint coatings. However, a challenge of developing these coatings for practical applications is mechanical durability due to a delicate surface texture. The KU coating is both superomniphobic and self-healing. Testing shows that mechanical damage to the surface, such as scratches or cracks, rapidly disappear in humid air. The material then recovers its original super-repellency for contacting liquids.
The coating can be applied to a wide variety of surfaces and substrates, imparting anti-fingerprint, anti-soil, anti-fouling, self-cleaning, anti-icing, antimicrobial, easy-to-clean, and anti-corrosion properties. In addition to long-established uses in textiles and architectural coatings, applications for repellent surface coatings have more recently expanded to automotive, packaging, aerospace, and electronics for waterproofing.
How it works:
The multi-layer coating material, which is a hydrogel in part, has experimentally demonstrated the ability to heal itself upon exposure to water vapor. It was shown that mechanical damages on the surface such as scratches or cracks rapidly disappear. The surface then continues to demonstrate superomniphobic properties and repellency for various liquids.
The coating developed at KU is both super-repellent, showing superhydrophobicity and superoleophobicity, and self-healing in response to mechanical damage.
Why it is better:
Superomniphobic coatings tend to lose their super-repellency upon abrasion or scratch damage. The KU coating overcomes these challenges by healing the surface damage through application of water vapor and thereby recovering super-repellency.