Injection molded self-cleaning surfaces

Research output: Book/ReportPh.D. thesis – Annual report year: 2015Research

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This PhD thesis concerns the development of superhydrophobic surfaces fabricated by injection molding. Today, injection molding is the prevalent production method for consumer plastic products. However, concerns regarding the environmental impact of a plastic production are increasing, especially because the use of potentially toxic self-cleaning coatings is used worldwide in a larger and larger scale.
In this context, the work in this PhD project could be seen as a scientific effort towards reducing toxic compounds in manufactured plastic parts by developing injecting molded surfaces that are superhydrophobic based on topography rather than chemical compounds.
Therefore, a novel method for fabricating superhydrophobic polymer surfaces with excellent water-repellant properties is developed. The method is based on microstructure fabrication and superposed nanostructures on silicon wafers. The nano- and microstructured silicon is electroplated with nickel and the resulting nickel shim with inverse polarity is used in an injection molding process.
A versatile injection molding process capable of producing different nano- and microstructures on areas larger than 10 cm2 is developed. Variotherm mold heating is used to ensure complete filling of the mold and a mold cavity-depacking process step is introduced. The depacking step increases polymer shrinkage allowing the nano- and microstructures to be successfully demolded. A systematic wetting study on injection molded polymer surfaces is performed on periodic hierarchical structures with nanograss and holes. Water wetting tests are carried out using a pressure cell to control the water pressure. Microscopic wetting behavior of the structures is studied by optical transmission microscopy. Interestingly, it is found that the surface chemistry of the polymer changes over time causing a decrease in hydrophobicity. It is concluded that the material properties of the polymer is critical for maintaining superhydrophobicity under water exposure.
A range of different structures with and without the hierarchical nanograss, pillars, micro cavities (holes), spruce like micropillars and pyramid shaped structures are examined. By employing deep ultra violet (DUV) projection lithography for mold fabrication, polymer surface feature sizes in the nanometer range could be realized over large surface areas. The superhydrophobic surfaces were fabricated from the amorphous polymer TOPAS 8007-S04 (COC) and the semi crystalline polymer PP HD601CF. An overview of the different types of structures in relation to applications is given. In particular, spruce like micropillars seems interesting. Here, the contact angles increase from 102° for unstructured polymer surfaces, to 172° for structured surfaces with a drop roll-off angle of less than 2°. Thereby, it is shown that an extremely water repellant surface can be injection molded directly with clear perspectives for more environmental and healthier plastic consumer products.
Original languageEnglish
PublisherDTU Nanotech
Number of pages230
Publication statusPublished - 2014

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