Transparent, Highly Water-repellent Coatings for Various Applications

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Hydrophobic coatings repel water. A team of researchers at Institute of Microstructure Technology (IMT) headed by Dr. Bastian E. Rapp have recently come up with a more evolved version of it that can be categorized into superhydrophobic, which is an incredibly water-repellent surface. This class of materials called Fluoropor, integrate properties of fluoropolymers, which is plastics with a degree of fluorination, with the toughness of lotus leaves. Hence, their surfaces are both water repellant and oil repellent. The material is also has high thermal and chemical stability.

The team under Dr. Rapp came up with a fluorinated polymer foam for the first time that is also transparent and insensitive to abrasion. The material has been named as Fluoropor.

The different types of everyday products that can benefit from highly hydrophobic coatings are water repellant and dirt repellant sportswear and outdoor clothing. They can also find application in anti-fog windshields.

How Fluoropor is Different from Superhydrophobic Materials

Superhydrophobic properties come into being because of structuring on the nano or microscale. Extremely fine structures such as these make surfaces sensitive to abrasion to a great degree. As a result they are not fit for everyday applications. In case of Fluoropor, on the other hand, the nano and microstructure is not just found on the surface but everywhere in the material. This imparts a greater degree of long-term abrasion resistance in it and also makes it suitable for daily use.

In addition, the foam appears optically transparent on account of its tiny pores, having diameter below the wavelength of light that is visible. Hence, Fluoropor is perfectly suited for coating of transparent substrates, namely glass. It can also be coated on polymers, metal, or textiles.

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