In situ reversible underwater superwetting transition by electrochemical atomic alternation

Qianbin Wang, Bojie Xu, Qing Hao, Dong Wang, Huan Liu, Lei Jiang

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28 Citations (Scopus)


Materials with in situ reversible wettability have attractive properties but remain a challenge to use since the inverse process of liquid spreading is normally energetically unfavorable. Here, we propose a general electrochemical strategy that enables the in situ reversible superwetting transition between underwater superoleophilicity and superoleophobicity by constructing a binary textured surface. Taking the copper/tin system as an example, the surface energy of the copper electrode can be lowered significantly by electrodeposited tin, and be brought back to the initial high-energy state as a result of dissolving tin by removing the potential. Tin atoms with the water depletion layer inhibit the formation of a hydrogen-bonding network, causing oil droplets to spread over the surface, while copper atoms, with a high affinity for hydroxyl groups, facilitate replacing the oil layer with the aqueous electrolyte. The concept is applicable to other systems, such as copper/lead, copper/antimony, gold/tin, gold/lead and gold/antimony, for both polar and nonpolar oils, representing a potentially useful class of switchable surfaces.

Original languageEnglish
Article number1212
Number of pages8
JournalNature Communications
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 14 Mar 2019
Externally publishedYes

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