Fabrication and wetting studies of novel, durable, bio-inspired, self-cleaning and super-oleophobic surfaces (ASKOUNISA_U21SF).
Self-cleaning, superhydrophobic (super-water-repelling) surfaces have attracted considerable attention in recent years due to their importance in numerous applications from microfluidics and antimicrobial to heat transfer and gas sensing. Essentially, these surfaces exhibit surface features (roughness) which enables the formation of pockets of air between the surface and the liquid, resulting in the liquid to bead up into a sphere that loosely adheres on the surface and can easily be removed by the action of gravity.
The unique properties of natural surfaces such as the lotus leaf, the rose petal, the cicada and butterfly wings to name a few, have inspired the approach to fabricate superhydrophobic surfaces where a surface is structured with an initial layer of structures followed either by coating with a hydrophobic layer or by secondary and smaller surface asperities. The surfaces exhibited extraordinary water-repelling characteristics but were fragile and hence their wider adoption remains limited.
This PhD project aims to continue from our previous work on the fabrication and characterisation of such surfaces[2,3] and develop new methodologies that will lead to durable, inexpensive and scalable self-cleaning, superhydrophobic and eventually superoleophobic (repelling all liquids) surfaces. After fabrication, the wetting properties and durability of the surfaces will be characterised in our state-of-the-art facilities of Productivity East and inform the design of surfaces depending on application mainly in heat transfer and gas sensing.
The closing date for applications is 31 May 2021, but applications will be reviewed as received and the project may be filled before the deadline. The start date is 1 October 2021 but the project may be available at an earlier start point if an applications is submitted at the appropriate time and should be discussed with the primary supervisor in the first instance.
Informal discussions should be addressed to Dr Alexandros Askounis.
More information on the department can be found at www.uea.ac.uk/engineering and about the supervisor at people.uea.ac.uk/en/persons/a-askounis.