S. Arunachalam, E.M. Domingues, R. Das, J. Nauruzbayeva, U. Buttner, A. Syed, H. Mishra
Journal of Visualized Experiments, Issue e60403, (2020)
Wetting, Omniphobicity, Reentrant and doubly reentrant cavities/pillars, Gas-entrapping microtextures (GEMs), Photolithography, Isotropic etching, Anisotropic etching, Thermal oxide growth, Reactive-ion etching, Contact angles, Immersion, Confocal microscopy
We present microfabrication protocols for rendering intrinsically wetting materials repellent to liquids (omniphobic) by creating gas-entrapping microtextures (GEMs) on them comprising cavities and pillars with reentrant and doubly reentrant features. Specifically, we use SiO2/Si as the model system and share protocols for two-dimensional (2D) designing, photolithography, isotropic/anisotropic etching techniques, thermal oxide growth, piranha cleaning, and storage towards achieving those microtextures. Even though the conventional wisdom indicates that roughening intrinsically wetting surfaces (θo < 90°) renders them even more wetting (θr < θo < 90°), GEMs demonstrate liquid repellence despite the intrinsic wettability of the substrate. For instance, despite the intrinsic wettability of silica θo ≈ 40° for the water/air system, and θo ≈ 20° for the hexadecane/air system, GEMs comprising cavities entrap air robustly on immersion in those liquids, and the apparent contact angles for the droplets are θr > 90°. The reentrant and doubly reentrant features in the GEMs stabilize the intruding liquid meniscus thereby trapping the liquid-solid-vapor system in metastable air-filled states (Cassie states) and delaying wetting transitions to the thermodynamically-stable fully-filled state (Wenzel state) by, for instance, hours to months. Similarly, SiO2/Si surfaces with arrays of reentrant and doubly reentrant micropillars demonstrate extremely high contact angles (θr ≈ 150°–160°) and low contact angle hysteresis for the probe liquids, thus characterized as superomniphobic. However, on immersion in the same liquids, those surfaces dramatically lose their superomniphobicity and get fully-filled within <1 s. To address this challenge, we present protocols for hybrid designs that comprise arrays of doubly reentrant pillars surrounded by walls with doubly reentrant profiles. Indeed, hybrid microtextures entrap air on immersion in the probe liquids. To summarize, the protocols described here should enable the investigation of GEMs in the context of achieving omniphobicity without chemical coatings, such as perfluorocarbons, which might unlock the scope of inexpensive common materials for applications as omniphobic materials. Silica microtextures could also serve as templates for soft materials.