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HIGH SCHOOL NANOSCIENCE PROGRAM

Super Hydrophobic Surfaces

 

Background

The superhydrophobic surfaces experiment blends elements from chemistry, biology, and physics to vividly demonstrate how the incorporation of nanoscale texture at a materialís surface can lead to dramatic changes in certain physical properties such as wettability.  Nanoscientists often find inspiration in nature.  In this experiment, students will assemble silver nanoparticle films onto copper surfaces using an electroless galvanic deposition technique.  After treating the nanoparticle films with a hydrophobic, "Teflon-like" coating, these surfaces are able to repel water in a manner that resembles the surfaces of lotus leaves or the feet of water strider insects.  The interaction of these nanotextured interfaces with water is said to be within the superhydrophobic regime, where the contact area between water droplets and a surface is minimized until the droplets become nearly spherical and literally roll or skip off the surface.  Students will learn basic concepts in surface chemistry and discuss emerging industrial applications for materials with these unique characteristics.