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A technique for making superhydrophobic metals

By Scott Jenkins |

A scalable technology for allowing the cost-effective manufacture of superhydrophobic metallic coatings has been demonstrated in the laboratory. The method could have applications for heat exchangers, condensers, high-temperature and high-conductivity applications and other types of equipment. The startup company Maxterial Inc. (Richmond, Calif.; www.maxterial.com) is working to commercialize the technology, which was originally conceived during the Ph.D. projects of Maxterial co-founders Mehdi Kargar and Atieh Haghdoost at Virginia Tech. Maxterial uses a modified electroplating process to create micro- and nano-scale surface features on a variety of metals. Using a chemical bath equipped with positive and negative electrodes, the company can control the deposition of surface features. The resulting microtextured surface dramatically reduces the contact area for the objects and droplets that contact the metal surface, explains Kargar, so it repels water. “By controlling the components of the chemical bath and the manufacturing parameters, we can make surfaces with a variety of features,” he adds. A critical aspect of the technology is that it is designed to be integrated with existing manufacturing infrastructure, says Haghdoost.…
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