Facile fabrication of micro-/nanostructured, superhydrophobic membranes with adjustable porosity by 3D printing†
Porous membranes with special wetting properties have attracted great interest due to their various functions and wide applications, including water filtration, selective oil/water separation and oil skimming. Special wetting properties such as superhydrophobicity can be achieved by controlling the surface chemistry as well as the surface topography of a substrate. Three-dimensional (3D) printing is a promising method for the fast and easy generation of various structures. The most common method for 3D printing of superhydrophobic materials is a two-step fabrication process: 3D printing of user-defined topographies, such as surface structures or bulk porosity, followed by a chemical post-processing with low-surface energy chemicals such as fluorinated silanes. Another common method is using a hydrophobic polymer ink to print intricate surface structures. However, the resolution of most common printers is not sufficient to produce nano-/microstructured textures, moreover, the resulting delicate surface micro- or nanostructures are very prone to abrasion. Herein, we report a simple approach for 3D printing of superhydrophobic micro-/nanoporous membranes in a single step, combining the required topography and chemistry. The bulk porosity of this material, which we term “Fluoropor”, makes it insensitive to abrasion. To achieve this, a photocurable fluorinated resin is mixed with a porogen mixture and 3D printed using a stereolithography (SLA) printing process. This way, micro-/nanoporous membranes with superhydrophobic properties with static contact angles of 164° are fabricated. The pore size of the membranes can be adjusted from 30 nm to 300 nm by only changing the porogen ratio in the mixture. We show the applicability of the printed membranes for oil/water separation and the formation of Salvinia layers which are of great interest for drag reduction in maritime transportation and fouling prevention.