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Jun 18, 2023

Researchers report that nanoscale chemical heterogeneity enables the co-existence of superhydrophobic and hygroscopic properties.

Superhydrophobicity and hygroscopicity are two properties that are theoretically exclusive to each other. The fabrication of functional fabrics with these two properties remains very challenging. In this work, it is demonstrated that a non-sticky superhydrophobic and hygroscopic fabric coating can be prepared via the photo polymerization of hexadecyl acrylate and methacrylic acid. On coating surface, the phase-separation-induced chemical heterogeneity has a unique feature of possessing elevated continuous hydrophobic domain and depressed hydrophilic domain, as evidenced by atomic force microscopy measurement.

The elevation of hydrophobic domain (i.e., depression of hydrophilic domain) allows the hydrophilic domain to make negligible contribution to the surface wettability to water drop, but can absorb water molecules, thus inducing the unique superhydrophobic but hygroscopic property. Coated polyester fabric shows a non-sticky superhydrophobicity with a static water contact angle of ~151° and a water shedding angle of ~10°, as well as good hygroscopic and anti-static properties.

The study has been published in Progress in Organic Coatings, Volume 182, September 2023.