Making metal surfaces strong, resistant, and multifunctional by nanoscale-sculpturing†
Surfaces are the crucial and limiting factor in nearly all metal applications, especially when technologically relevant alloys are employed. Insufficient surface properties on the nano- and microscale of metals determine, e.g. metal–polymer composite stability, implant biocompatibility, or corrosion resistance. Conventional surface preparation is just like an arbitrary cut through the metal body optimized for bulk behavior so that such surfaces contain various element mixtures and complex microstructures in which grains and lattice planes vary in their chemical stability from weak to strong. In contrast, the here described novel nanoscale-surface sculpturing based on semiconductor etching knowledge turns surfaces of everyday metals into their most stable configuration, but leaves the bulk properties unaffected. Thus, nanoscale-sculpturing ensures stronger, reliable joints to nearly all materials, reduces corrosion vastly, and generates a multitude of multifunctional surface properties not limited to those shown below.