Hydrophilic directional slippery rough surfaces for water harvesting

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Science Advances  30 Mar 2018:
Vol. 4, no. 3, eaaq0919
DOI: 10.1126/sciadv.aaq0919

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Multifunctional surfaces that are favorable for both droplet nucleation and removal are highly desirable for water harvesting applications but are rare. Inspired by the unique functions of pitcher plants and rice leaves, we present a hydrophilic directional slippery rough surface (SRS) that is capable of rapidly nucleating and removing water droplets. Our surfaces consist of nanotextured directional microgrooves in which the nanotextures alone are infused with hydrophilic liquid lubricant. We have shown through molecular dynamics simulations that the physical origin of the efficient droplet nucleation is attributed to the hydrophilic surface functional groups, whereas the rapid droplet removal is due to the significantly reduced droplet pinning of the directional surface structures and slippery interface. We have further demonstrated that the SRS, owing to its large surface area, hydrophilic slippery interface, and directional liquid repellency, outperforms conventional liquid-repellent surfaces in water harvesting applications.

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