At Purdue University, engineers have created a practical way of giving tubes, microchannels, and other hollow components superhydrophobic properties. The technique will improve existing medical devices and make new ones, particularly originating from the field of microfluidics, possible.
Currently, there are a number of techniques to make a surface repel water so much that a water drop placed on it retains its spherical shape. These are impractical, for one reason or another, when trying to make superhydrophobic non-flat surfaces. “Our technology provides an innovative way of creating superhydrophobic, or non-water-resistant, non-flat surfaces on metallic and polymer materials,” said Yung Shin, a Professor at Purdue’s College of Engineering. “There is no other current technology available for creating internal hydrophobic surfaces for microchannels in a cost-effective way.”
The technology involves using a very fast laser to make etchings on a metal surface and then using transfer molding to move those etchings onto a polymer. The features within the polymer are so fine and precisely engineered that they allow water-based fluids to rapidly flow through the channels created using the technique. Microfluidic systems can now be more efficient and cooling of highly compact and energy intensive medical devices will now be easier thanks to this technology.