Materials scientists at China’s Hunan University have used 3D printing to develop a new type of water-repellent surface. Tiny mushroom-shaped microstructures are designed to enable precise control of the behavior of water droplets.
Many water-repellent surfaces are found in nature, but most lack the precision needed for targeted droplet control. The researchers therefore combined natural models and high-resolution 3D printing to imprint plastic surfaces with mushroom-shaped micro-columns.
According to the scientists, by varying the shape, size and arrangement of the mushroom structures, the speed and trajectory of water droplets can be precisely controlled. Even complex movement patterns are possible, they say.
The intelligently designed surfaces could be useful for a variety of applications, such as self-cleaning, de-icing or energy harvesting. They demonstrate the potential of targeted design at the microscopic level and also suggest possible applications beyond droplet control.
The research results were published in the journal Advanced Functional Materials under the title “Programmable Droplet Bouncing on Bionic Functional Surfaces for Continuous Electricity Generation.”