Bioinspired interfaces with superwettability: From materials to chemistry

Bin Su, Ye Tian, Lei Jiang

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

587 Citations (Scopus)


Superwettability is a special case of the wetting phenomenon among liquids, gases, and solids. The superhydrophobic/superhydrophilic effect discovered initially has undergone a century of development based on materials science and biomimetics. With the rapid development of research on anti-wetting materials, superoleophobic/superoleophilic surfaces have been fabricated to repel organic liquids besides water. Further studies of underwater superoleophobic/superoleophilic/superaerophobic/superaerophilic materials provide an alternative way to fabricate anti-wetting surfaces rather than lowering the surface energy. Owing to a series of efforts on the studying of extreme wettabilities, a mature superwettability system gradually evolved and has since become a vibrant area of active research, covering topics of superhydrophobicity/superhydrophilicity, superoleophobicity/superoleophilicity in gas or under liquid, superaerophobicity/superaerophilicity under liquid, and combinations of these states. The kinetic study of the superwettability system includes statics and dynamics, while the studied material structures range from traditional two-dimensional materials to three-dimensional, one-dimensional, and zero-dimensional materials. Furthermore, the wetting liquids range from water to oil, aqueous solutions, and ionic liquids, as well as liquid crystals and other types of liquids. The wetting conditions extend over a wide range of temperatures, pressures, and other external fields. With the development of this series of research, many new theories and functional interfacial materials have been fabricated, including self-cleaning textiles, oil/water separation systems, and water collection systems, and some of these have already been applied in industry. Moreover, the study of superwettability has also introduced many new phenomena and principles to the field of interfacial chemistry that display its vast potential in both materials and chemistry. The present Perspective aims to summarize the most recent research on these materials and their interfacial chemistry. An overview of novel materials in superwettability systems and interfacial materials is presented. Specifically, the evolution of superwettable materials will be introduced, and the fundamental rules for building these superwetting materials will be discussed, followed by a summary of recent progress in the application of superwettable materials to alter the behaviors of chemical reactants and products. Specific emphasis is placed on recent strategies that exploit superwettable materials to influence the performance of traditional chemical reactions and their unique contributions to chemistry, including the effective collection of reaction products, unique growth models of precipitates, and a simple strategy for the alignment/assembly of nanoscale building blocks. Finally, a short perspective is provided on the potential for future developments in the field.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1727 - 1748
Number of pages22
JournalJournal of the American Chemical Society
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - 2016

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