Processing effects on the properties of hybrid sol-gel superhydrophobic coatings
Hybrid superhydrophobic sol-gel coatings were synthesised and applied on glass substrates. Low surface energy was obtained by using hydrophobic organo-functionalised silanes and roughness was formed by alkyl modified silica nanoparticles (NPs). However, these superhydrophobic coating (SHCs) are known to exhibit lack of interfacial adhesion of the NPs and limited interfacial adhesion with the underlying substrates, as demonstrated by their ease of removal in harsh environments.
For the study, hybrid hydrophobic sol-gel and hydrophobic silica NPs based SHCs were prepared with the objective to obtain enhanced interfacial adhesion both between the silica NPs and the sol-gel matrix and between the sol gel matrix and glass substrates.
Dual-cured SHC presented the highest mechanical and environmental durability
Consequently, three curing processes were studied: Thermal, radiation, and dual curing. Dual-cured SHC presented the highest mechanical and environmental durability. It retained its superhydrophobicity (SH) for 17 tape peels and for 1000 h under accelerated weathering conditions. Failure analysis indicated that strong interfacial bonding was formed at the interface between the alkyl modified silica NPs and the hybrid hydrophobic sol gel matrix due to the interfacial free radical chemistry as well as between the sol gel coating and the glass substrate due to condensation chemistry.
Moreover, the dual-cured hybrid sol-gel demonstrated transparent SHCs with over 90 % optical transmittance, water contact angle (CA) of 160˚ and a correspondingly sliding angle (SA) of ∼0˚. Morphological and roughness analyses revealed a uniform, hierarchic structure consisting of micro- and nano-sized asperities with Gaussian peak density distribution, like the Lotus leaf surface. According to ATR-IR analysis, dual curing process combines the mechanisms of chain polymerization of functional vinyl silane by radiation and thermal condensation polymerisation of fluoro-silane to form a siloxane network. Hence, only chain or only condensation mechanisms lead to partial crosslinked network and low interfacial adhesion of the NPs to the sol-gel system.
The study has been published in Progress in Organic Coatings, Volume 140, March 2020.
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