UMD, MIT team for new 'superhydrophobic surfaces' patent

UMD, MIT team for new 'superhydrophobic surfaces' patent

UMD, MIT team for new 'superhydrophobic surfaces' patent

A team composed of researchers with ties to the University of Maryland and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology was awarded U.S. Patent 8,986,814 on March 24, 2015 for “Superhydrophobic surfaces.”

The patent is for a new kind of surface that mimics the water-resisting properties of wetland plant leaves. The new surfaces have a hierarchical structure with both microscale and nanoscale features. They can be fabricated using biological virus nanostructures as self-assembled templates. The “superhydrophobic” properties of these surfaces could one day make them useful as coatings on buildings, solar cells, and textiles. They also could be employed in applications that require drag reduction and increased heat transfer.

The research team includes MIT Associate Professor of Mechanical Engineering Evelyn Wang; ISR Director Reza Ghodssi (ECE/ISR); Professor James Culver (Plant Science & Landscape Architecture); Drexel University Assistant Professor of Mechanical Engineering and Mechanics Matthew McCarthy; Ryan Enright of Bell Labs Ireland, a former postdoctoral researcher at MIT; and ISR postdoctoral researcher Konstantinos Gerasopoulos (EE Ph.D. 2012).

McCarthy is a former ISR postdoc who worked with Dr. Ghodssi; Gerasopoulos currently works with Dr. Ghodssi and is his former student.

About the patent
Superhydrophobic surfaces, with static contact angles greater than 150.degree., droplet hystereses less than 10.degree., and roll-off tilt angles typically less than 2.degree., resist wetting and exhibit self-cleaning properties.

In nature, a wide array of wetland and aquatic plant leaves are superhydrophobic and self-cleaning. Due to the abundance of water, these wetland plants do not rely on taking in moisture through their leaves to hydrate, and resist wetting when it is raining.

These properties actually are a necessity for the plants’ survival. Shedding water from the surface dramatically increases their uptake of carbon dioxide for photosynthesis. In addition, their self-cleaning abilities reduce the formation of bacteria and fungi that would otherwise thrive in the hot, moist wetland climate.

Scientists have focused significant efforts on mimicking the naturally occurring structures of the leaves of one of these plants, the lotus. However, existing fabrication methods limited scientists' ability to accurately mimic both the surface structures and resulting water-repellent behavior of the lotus.

To overcome this limitation, the UMD-MIT research team used a genetically engineered mutation of the tobacco mosaic virus (TMV) as their fabrication template. TMV, like other viruses, is a self-assembled biological nanostructure. Genetic engineering can change the TMV to give it properties useful in fabrication, such as an affinity for a surface. The virus then can serve as a nanoscale template. When used in this way, the virus becomes inert. In this case, the research team was able to use the TMV template to successfully build a hierarchically structured, superhydrophobic surface that also has condensation mass and heat-transfer properties.

Members of the research team have experience using TMV as a template in previous work; for example to build a new generation of small, powerful and highly efficient batteries and fuel cells.

Related Articles:
Decade of TMV research leads to never-before-seen microsystems for energy storage, biosensors and self-sustaining systems
NSF grant for Ghodssi, Bentley furthers research of flexible devices to combat biofilms
Schizophrenia drug monitoring device research featured on IEEE Sensors Letters cover
ISR participates in NSF 30th Anniversary ERC Celebration
Reza Ghodssi named ASME Fellow
Reza Ghodssi named AVS Fellow
New AFOSR NIFTI Center features eight Clark School faculty
Maryland inventors issued US Patent for compounds that fight biofilms
Reza Ghodssi elected Fellow of IEEE
Ghodssi Co-Edits Comprehensive MEMS Handbook

March 26, 2015


Prev   Next

Current Headlines

Behtash Babadi Wins Clark School's Junior Faculty Teaching Award

Accepting Applications for Student Entrepreneurship Fellowship

Discoveries from NASA's Parker Solar Probe published in Nature

Rama Chellappa Wins 2020 IEEE Jack S. Kilby Signal Processing Medal

New Report Recommends a Path for the Future of Maryland’s Clean Energy Economy

Clark professors Wu, Liu named National Academy of Inventors Fellows

Additive Manufacturing and Ni-Ti Metal Bolster Cooling Technology

Additive Manufacturing and Ni-Ti Metal Bolster Cooling Technology

News Resources

Return to Newsroom

Search News

Archived News

Events Resources

Events Calendar