Superhydrophilic and superwetting surfaces: Definitions and mechanisms of control

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Department of Materials Science and Engineering


The term superhydrophobicity was introduced in 1996 to describe water-repellent fractal surfaces, made of a hydrophobic material, on which water drops remain as almost perfect spheres and roll off such surfaces leaving no residue. Today, superhydrophobic surfaces are defined as textured materials (and coatings) on (nonsmooth) surfaces on which water forms contact angles 150° and larger, with only a few degrees of contact angle hysteresis (or sliding angle). The terms superhydrophilicity and superwetting were introduced a few years after the term superhydrophobicity to describe the complete spreading of water or liquid on substrates. The definition of superhydrophilic and superwetting substrates has not been clarified yet, and unrestricted use of these terms sometimes stirs controversy. This Letter briefly reviews the superwetting phenomenon and offers a suggestion on defining superhydrophilic and superwetting substrates and surfaces.

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© 2010 American Chemical Society. Publisher's version of record: https://doi.org/10.1021/la1039893

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