Nav: Home

New waterproofing and antifouling materials developed by Swansea Scientists

June 08, 2017

'Green' project led by Swansea scientists could replace more expensive and hazardous materials used for waterproofing and antifouling/fogging.

New materials have been developed by scientists in the Energy Safety Research Institute (ESRI) at Swansea University which is nontoxic, economical and shows promise to replace more expensive and hazardous materials used for waterproofing and antifouling/fogging.

A new class of nanomaterials with tunable wettability have important applications ranging from antifouling to water proofing surfaces. Materials made by scientists at Swansea University are inexpensive, nontoxic and can be applied to a variety of surfaces via spray- or spin-coating.

The researchers led by Dr. Shirin Alexander and Professor Andrew Barron reported their find in the American Chemical Society open access journal ACS Omega.

The spray coated nanomaterials provide both a texture to the surfaces, regardless of the substrate, and the chemical functionality that can alter the surface from superhydrophilic (water wetting) to superhydrophobic (water repelling) based on the choice of tailored functionality.

Fabrication and testing of low surface energy to high surface energy materials were carried out by Wafaa Al-Shatty a master student at the Energy Safety Research Institute at the Swansea University Bay Campus.

There, she synthesized aluminum oxide nanoparticles using hydrocarbon linear and branched carboxylic acids (with different surface energies) to demonstrate that hydrophobicity can be readily tuned based on the nature of the chemical functionality. The research demonstrates that subtle changes in the organic chain enable the control of surface wettability, roughness, surface energy and the nanoparticles ability to behave as surface active agents.

Both hydrophobicity and hydrophilicity are reinforced by roughness. Nanoparticles with the methoxy (-OCH3) functionality exhibit high surface energy and therefore superhydrophilicity properties. On the other hand branched hydrocarbons reduce the surface energy. Spiky (branched) chains are the first line of defense against water alongside surface roughness (caused by nanoparticles in both cases). This minimizes contact between the surface and water droplets, which allows them to slide off.

To be superhydrophobic, a material has to have a water contact angle larger than 150 degrees, while superhydrophilic surfaces are material whose surfaces exhibits water contact angles lower than 10 degrees. Contact angle is the angle at which the surface of the water meets the surface of the material.

The hydrocarbon-based superhydrophobic material may be a "green" replacement for costly, hazardous fluorocarbons commonly used for superhydrophobic applications. "They also are able to reduce the interfacial tension of various oils-water emulsions by behaving as surface active agents (surfactants)", Alexander said. The understanding of the relationships between the superhydrophobic and superhydrophilic nanoparticles and the resulting oil stability, emulsion properties and interfacial tension at the oil/water boundary is highly instructive yielding insights that could greatly benefit the future development of greater efficiency in the recovery of oil through enhanced oil recovery (EOR) methods.

The team is working to improve the material's durability on various substrates, as well as looking at large-scale application to surfaces.
-end-
Co-authors of the papers are Alex Lord, a research fellow at the Swansea University Center for Nanohealth. Barron is the Charles W. Duncan Jr.-Welch Professor of Chemistry and a professor of materials science and nanoengineering at Rice and the Sêr Cymru Chair of Low Carbon Energy and Environment at Swansea. Alexander is the Sêr Cymru Research Fellow at Swansea University.

The Robert A. Welch Foundation and the Welsh Government Sêr Cymru II Fellowship Program supported the research.

Read the open access article at http://pubs.acs.org/doi/full/10.1021/acsomega.7b00279.

Barron Research Group: http://barron.rice.edu/Barron.html and http://www.esri-swansea.org

Swansea University

Related Nanoparticles Articles:

Chemists perform surgery on nanoparticles
A team of chemists led by Carnegie Mellon's Rongchao Jin has for the first time conducted site-specific surgery on a nanoparticle.
Nanoparticles remain unpredictable
The way that nanoparticles behave in the environment is extremely complex.
Gold standards for nanoparticles
KAUST researchers reveal how small organic 'citrate' ions can stabilize gold nanoparticles, assisting research on the structures' potential.
Lipid nanoparticles for gene therapy
Twenty-five years have passed since the publication of the first work on solid lipid nanoparticles (SLNs) and nanostructured lipid carriers (NLCs) as a system for delivering drugs.
Nanoparticles hitchhiking their way along strands of hair
In shampoo ads, hair always looks like a shiny, smooth surface.
Better contrast agents based on nanoparticles
Scientists at the University of Basel have developed nanoparticles which can serve as efficient contrast agents for magnetic resonance imaging.
Gentle cancer treatment using nanoparticles works
Cancer treatments based on laser irridation of tiny nanoparticles that are injected directly into the cancer tumor are working and can destroy the cancer from within.
Radiation-guided nanoparticles zero in on metastatic cancer
Zap a tumor with radiation to trigger expression of a molecule, then attack that molecule with a drug-loaded nanoparticle.
Nanoparticles can grow in cubic shape
Use of nanoparticles in many applications, e.g. for catalysis, relies on the surface area of the particles.
Nanoparticles deliver anticancer cluster bombs
Scientists have devised a triple-stage 'cluster bomb' system for delivering the chemotherapy drug cisplatin, via tiny nanoparticles designed to break up when they reach a tumor.

Related Nanoparticles Reading:

Best Science Podcasts 2019

We have hand picked the best science podcasts for 2019. Sit back and enjoy new science podcasts updated daily from your favorite science news services and scientists.
Now Playing: TED Radio Hour

Anthropomorphic
Do animals grieve? Do they have language or consciousness? For a long time, scientists resisted the urge to look for human qualities in animals. This hour, TED speakers explore how that is changing. Guests include biological anthropologist Barbara King, dolphin researcher Denise Herzing, primatologist Frans de Waal, and ecologist Carl Safina.
Now Playing: Science for the People

#532 A Class Conversation
This week we take a look at the sociology of class. What factors create and impact class? How do we try and study it? How does class play out differently in different countries like the US and the UK? How does it impact the political system? We talk with Daniel Laurison, Assistant Professor of Sociology at Swarthmore College and coauthor of the book "The Class Ceiling: Why it Pays to be Privileged", about class and its impacts on people and our systems.