Durable Superhydrophobic Surfaces Via Spontaneous Wrinkling of Teflon

28 November 2019

We report the fabrication of both single-scale and hierarchical superhydrophobic surfaces, created by exploiting the spontaneous wrinkling of a rigid Teflon AF film on two types of shrinkable plastic substrates. Sub-100 nm to micrometric wrinkles were reproducibly generated by this simple process, with remarkable control over the size and hierarchy. Hierarchical Teflon AF wrinkled surfaces showed extremely high water repellence (contact angle 172°) and very low contact angle hysteresis (2°), resulting in droplets rolling off the surface at tilt angles lower than 5°. The wrinkling process intimately binds the Teflon AF layer with its substrate, making these surfaces mechanically robust, as revealed by macroscale and nanoscale wear tests: hardness values were close to that of commercial optical lenses and aluminum films, resistance to scratch was comparable to commercial hydrophobic coatings, and damage by extensive sonication did not significantly affect water repellence. By this fabrication method the size of the wrinkles can be reproducibly tuned from the nanoscale to the microscale, across the whole surface in one step; the fabrication procedure is extremely rapid, requiring only 2 min of thermal annealing to produce the desired topography, and uses inexpensive materials. The very low roll-off angles achieved in the hierarchical surfaces offer a potentially up-scalable alternative as self-cleaning and drag-reducing coatings.