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With A Jolt, 'Nanonails' Go From Repellent To Wettable

Date:
January 31, 2008
Source:
University of Wisconsin-Madison
Summary:
Sculpting a surface composed of tightly packed nanostructures that resemble tiny nails, engineers have created a material that can repel almost any liquid. Add a jolt of electricity, and the liquid on the surface slips past the heads of the nanonails and spreads out between their shanks, wetting the surface completely.

Sculpting a surface composed of tightly packed nanostructures that resemble tiny nails, researchers have created a material that can repel almost any liquid.
Credit: Image courtesy of University of Wisconsin-Madison

Sculpting a surface composed of tightly packed nanostructures that resemble tiny nails, University of Wisconsin-Madison engineers and their colleagues from Bell Laboratories have created a material that can repel almost any liquid.

Add a jolt of electricity, and the liquid on the surface slips past the heads of the nanonails and spreads out between their shanks, wetting the surface completely.

The new material, which was reported this month in Langmuir, a journal of the American Chemical Society, could find use in biomedical applications such as "lab-on-a- chip" technology, the manufacture of self-cleaning surfaces, and could help extend the working life of batteries as a way to turn them off when not in use.

UW-Madison mechanical engineers Tom Krupenkin and J. Ashley Taylor and their team etched a silicon wafer to create a forest of conductive silicon shanks and non-conducting silicon oxide heads. Intriguingly, the ability of the surface of the structure to repel water, oil, and solvents rests on the nanonail geometry.

"It turns out that what's important is not the chemistry of the surface, but the topography of the surface," Krupenkin explains, noting that the overhang of the nail head is what gives his novel surface its dual personality.

A surface of posts, he notes, creates a platform so rough at the nanoscale that "liquid only touches the surface at the extreme ends of the posts. It's almost like sitting on a layer of air."


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by University of Wisconsin-Madison. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

University of Wisconsin-Madison. "With A Jolt, 'Nanonails' Go From Repellent To Wettable." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 31 January 2008. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/01/080129160724.htm>.
University of Wisconsin-Madison. (2008, January 31). With A Jolt, 'Nanonails' Go From Repellent To Wettable. ScienceDaily. Retrieved April 19, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/01/080129160724.htm
University of Wisconsin-Madison. "With A Jolt, 'Nanonails' Go From Repellent To Wettable." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/01/080129160724.htm (accessed April 19, 2014).

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