Graphene tailored by Fe3O4 nanoparticles: low-adhesive and durable superhydrophobic coatings†
This study reports stable superhydrophobic Fe3O4/graphene hybrid coatings prepared by spin coating of the Fe3O4/graphene/PDMS mixed solution on titanium substrates. By tailoring graphene sheets with Fe3O4 nanoparticles, the superhydrophobicity of graphene platelets was largely enhanced with a water contact angle of 164° and sliding angle <2°. Fe3O4 nanoparticles interact with FLG sheets via Fe–O–C covalent link, to form a graphene micro-sheet pinned strongly by nano-sized Fe3O4. The newly-formed micro/nano-structured sheets interact with each other via strong dipole–dipole attractions among Fe3O4 nanoparticles, confirmed by the blue shifts of G band observed in Raman spectra. The strongly interactive micro/nano-structured sheets are responsible for the improvement of both the surface hydrophobicity and the durability towards water impacting. The obtained hybrid coatings possess excellent durability in various environments, such as acidic and basic aqueous solutions, simulating ocean water. And also the coatings can retain their stable superhydrophobicity in Cassie–Baxter state even after annealing at 250 °C or refrigerating at −39 °C for 10 h. We employed an AFM to probe nanoscale adhesion forces to examine further the ability of the as-prepared coatings to resist the initial formation of water layers which reflects the ability to prevent the water spreading. The most superhydrophobic and durable hybrid coating with 1.8 g Fe3O4, shows the smallest adhesion force, as expected, indicating this surface possesses the weakest initial water adhesive strength. The resulting low-adhesive superhydrophobic coating shows a good self-cleaning ability. This fabrication of low-adhesive and durable superhydrophobic Fe3O4/FLG hybrid coatings advances a better understanding of the physics of wetting and yield a prospective candidate for various practical applications, such as self-cleaning, microfluidic devices, etc.