Maximizing the giant liquid slip on superhydrophobic microstructures by nanostructuring their sidewalls

Langmuir. 2009 Nov 3;25(21):12812-8. doi: 10.1021/la901824d.

Abstract

In an effort to maximize the liquid slip on superhydrophobic surfaces, we investigate the role of the nanoscale roughness on microscale structures by developing well-defined micro-nano hierarchical structures. The nonwetting stability and slip length on the dual-scale micro-nano structures are measured and compared with those on single-scale micro-smooth structures. A force balance between a liquid pressure and a surface tension indicates that hydrophobic nanostructures on the sidewall of microposts or microgrates would expand the range of the nonwetted state. When a higher gas fraction or a larger pitch can be tested without wetting, a larger slip length is expected on the microstructures. An ideal dual-scale structure is described that isolates the role of the nanostructures, and a fabrication technique is developed to achieve such a microstructure-smooth tops and nanostructured sidewalls. The tests confirm such micro-nano structures allow a nonwetted state at a higher gas fraction or a larger pitch than the previous micro-smooth structures. As a result, we achieve the maximum slip length of approximately 400 microm on the dual-scale structures, an increase of approximately 100% over the previous maximum reported on the single-scale (i.e., micro-smooth) structures. The study ameliorates our understanding of the role of each scale on hierarchical structures for a wetting transition and a liquid slip. The resulting giant slip is large enough to influence many fluidic applications, even in macroscale.