Designing Non-Textured, All-Solid, Slippery Hydrophilic Surfaces

Matter. 2022 Dec 7;5(12):4502-4512. doi: 10.1016/j.matt.2022.09.024. Epub 2022 Oct 7.


Slippery surfaces are sought after due to their wide range of applications in self-cleaning, drag reduction, fouling-resistance, enhanced condensation, biomedical implants etc. Recently, non-textured, all-solid, slippery surfaces have gained significant attention because of their advantages over super-repellent surfaces and lubricant-infused surfaces. Currently, almost all non-textured, all-solid, slippery surfaces are hydrophobic. In this work, we elucidate the systematic design of non-textured, all-solid, slippery hydrophilic (SLIC) surfaces by covalently grafting polyethylene glycol (PEG) brushes to smooth substrates. Furthermore, we postulate a plateau in slipperiness above a critical grafting density, which occurs when the tethered brush size is equal to the inter-tether distance. Our SLIC surfaces demonstrate exceptional performance in condensation and fouling-resistance compared to non-slippery hydrophilic surfaces and slippery hydrophobic surfaces. Based on these results, SLIC surfaces constitute an emerging class of surfaces with the potential to benefit multiple technological landscapes ranging from thermofluidics to biofluidics.

Keywords: Dropwise Condensation; Fouling Resistance; Grafting Density; Hydrophilic; Slippery.