PerspectiveMaterials Science

Improving surface-wetting characterization

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Science  15 Mar 2019:
Vol. 363, Issue 6432, pp. 1147-1148
DOI: 10.1126/science.aav5388

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Highly hydrophobic surfaces have numerous useful properties; for example, they can shed water, be self-cleaning, and prevent fogging (1, 2). Surface hydrophobicity is generally characterized with contact angle (CA) goniometry. With a history of more than 200 years (3), the measurement of CAs was and still is considered the gold standard in wettability characterization, serving to benchmark surfaces across the entire wettability spectrum from superhydrophilic (CA of 0°) to superhydrophobic (CA of 150° to 180°). However, apart from a few reports [e.g., (48)], the inherent measurement inaccuracy of the CA goniometer has been largely overlooked by its users. The development of next-generation liquid-repellent coatings depends on raising awareness of the limitations of CA measurements and adopting more sensitive methods that measure forces.

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