Feyza Karasu Kiliç, Yves Leterrier, Luca Alois Egon Müller
Superhydrophobic self-cleaning and wear-resistant nanocomposite surfaces were produced by mimicking the hierarchical structure of the lotus leaf using a combination of rapid self-assembly and a UV nano-imprint lithography (UVNIL) process with a silicone master. Two different acrylate formulations containing acrylated silica nanoparticles and an acrylated silicone surfactant were used. The presence of the silicone master did not suppress the spontaneous migration of the surfactant to the polymer surface, which increased its hydrophobic character. Adding acrylated silica particles considerably increased the viscosity of the acrylate suspensions and led to a shear-thinning behavior. However the particles did not prevent the fast migration process of the surfactant and further increased the hydrophobicity of the material, due to increased nanoscale roughness of the nanocomposite surface. The largest increase of hydrophobicity was achieved for the UVNIL printed lotus surfaces using the acrylate formulation with lowest viscosity. These surfaces became superhydrophobic for the highest investigated concentration of silica. These nanocomposite lotus surfaces were, in addition, very hard with a microhardness above 400 MPa and particularly wear-resistant, and were self-cleaning with respect to hydrophobic contamination.