Super-hydrophobic nano materials
Francesco Stellacci and Jing Kong
In recent memory, there have been numerous oil spill or leakage accidents that have drawn attention because of the serious environmental hazards they present. The cleanup of these disasters come at a high price and can take months to clean. In addition, existing cleanup materials are not as absorbent and as selective as necessary. Addressing the need for more efficient oil-spill cleanup is an important step in limiting the environmental devastation caused by these types of accidents. This project explores the properties of a new super-hydrophobic material derived from a macroscopic nanowire-assembly for selectively absorbing oil from water and separating different liquids. Initial results have demonstrated significant potential in such applications. The fabrication of these materials is simple and rapid, and the surface wetting properties can be tuned such that the materials can change from super-hydrophobic to super-hydrophilic reversibly. Such an approach could allow for the continuous absorption of hazardous materials, significantly impacting how hazardous accidents are cleaned.