The Chemistry and CVD of Hydrophobic Surfaces

Lead Research Organisation: University College London
Department Name: Chemistry


The plant world has over two hundred species that have the ability to clean themselves using rain water. They do so by having a highly structured surface that is composed of microscopic nodules. These nodules cause rain impacting on the surface to form almost completely spherical balls. These water balls roll across the surface and attract dust and debris from the plant surface- and enable the plant to clean itself. The aim of this project is to produce surfaces that mimic the action of these plants- we will make these hydrophobic surfaces by chemical vapour deposition. The chemical vapour deposition technique allows thin films of material to be laid down- the key feature is that the films are extremely well bonded to the underlaying surface. By controlling the surface structure- that is to make surfaces with a microscopic nodular apperance we will be able to make the surfaces very hydrophobic. Further we will investigate the effect of surface chemistry on these surfaces by adding specific elements that in themselves are water repelling. The applications of this work are enormous- if a surface can be made very hydrophobic not only will it self clean, it will also not mist. This means that it can be used on spectacles, bathroom mirrors and the indside of cars to stop them fogging up. It could also be used on the exterior surface of a window pain to keep the window clean and bright.


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Crick C (2011) Aerosol Assisted Depositions of Polymers Using an Atomiser Delivery System in Journal of Nanoscience and Nanotechnology

Description We have developed a new way of making water repellent surfaces. This can be used to make clothes that self clean and hard surfaces that kill bacteria.

We have now published a science paper in this area and are talking to 20+ companies.

We have been discussing a licensing agreement with two companies. We have been awarded an Innovate UK award with Akzo Nobel and we are discussing investment funding with a venture capital partner through UCLB.
Exploitation Route further grant funding- including new ways to clean up oil spills on water.
Sectors Environment

Description We have made a series of hydrophobic films that reple water and bacteria. We have also developed new self cleaning materials. We are in discussion with more than 20 industrial companies on use of technology developed from follow on work from this grant. We now have innovate UK projects with Akzo Nobel and with Altro looking to commercialise outcomes from this grant
First Year Of Impact 2011
Sector Chemicals,Environment
Impact Types Economic

Description EPSRC
Amount £40,000 (GBP)
Funding ID Ph.D+ 
Organisation Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) 
Sector Public
Country United Kingdom
Start 03/2012 
End 03/2013