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Foam structures: Organo-silica sol-gel foam

A common approach to creating super water-repellent surfaces is to make a rough structure and then coat it with a hydrophobic surface chemistry. If the surface is rubbed or abraded, the effect is worn away as the coating with the surface chemistry is removed. In the sol-gel technique, a foam is produced by a phase separation method and by varying the solution properties, the pore sizes can be controlled. If the foam is produced using MTEOS (methyltriethoxysilane) then all the pores have hydrophobic surfaces. When this foam is abraded the surface is naturally superhydrophobic. If it becomes dirty, and loses it super water-repellency, abrading it renews the surface and recreates the superhydrophobicity. Read more about the process in the publication below.


N.J. Shirtcliffe, G. McHale, C.C. Perry and M.I. Newton,
Intrinsically super hydrophobic organo-silica sol-gel foams,
Langmuir 19 (14) (2003) 5626-5631.
Via ACS server

Additional Reading

N.J. Shirtcliffe, G. McHale, M.I. Newton, C.C. Perry and P. Roach,
Porous materials show superhydrophobic to superhydrophilic switching,
Chem. Comm. (25) (2005) 3135-3137.
View postprint pdf

N.J. Shirtcliffe, G. McHale, M.I. Newton, C.C. Perry and P. Roach,
Superhydrophobic to superhydrophilic transitions of sol-gel films for temperature, alcohol or surfactant measurement,
Maters. Chem. & Phys. 103 (1) (2007) 112-117.