Photopolymerized superhydrophobic hybrid coating enabled by dual-purpose tetrapodal ZnO for liquid/liquid separation.
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Low-cost and scalable superhydrophobic coating methods provide viable approaches for energy-efficient separation of immiscible liquid/liquid mixtures. A scalable photopolymerization method is developed to functionalize porous substrates with a hybrid coating of tetrapodal ZnO (T-ZnO) and polymethacrylate, which exhibits simultaneous superhydrophobicity and superoleophilicity. Here, T-ZnO serves dual purposes by (i) initiating radical photopolymerization during the fabrication process through a hole-mediated pathway and (ii) providing a hierarchical surface roughness to amplify wettability characteristics and suspend liquid droplets in the metastable Cassie-Baxter regime. Photopolymerization provides a means to finely control the conversion and spatial distribution of the formed polymer, whilst allowing for facile large-area fabrication and potential coating on heat-sensitive substrates. Coated stainless-steel meshes and filter papers with desired superhydrophobic/superoleophilic properties exhibit excellent performance in separating stratified oil/water, oil/ionic-liquid, and water/ionic-liquid mixtures as well as water-in-oil emulsions. The hybrid coating demonstrates desired mechanical robustness and chemical resistance for their long-term application in large-scale energy-efficient separation of immiscible liquid/liquid mixtures.
author list (cited authors)
Li, C., Lee, B., Wang, C., Bajpayee, A., Douglas, L. D., Phillips, B. K., ... Fang, L.