Materials Science

Robust water-repellant fabrics

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Science  26 Feb 2021:
Vol. 371, Issue 6532, pp. 902-903
DOI: 10.1126/science.371.6532.902-e

Wrinkled poly(ethylene terephthalate)-coated fibers can make durable, water-repellent fabrics.

IMAGE: XU ET AL., ACS APPL. MAT. INTERFACES, 13, 6758 (2021)

Materials that aggressively repel water are useful for protective fabrics and self-cleaning surfaces. However, it can be challenging to make coatings on woven fabrics that can resist rubbing and frequent washing cycles without using fluorinated molecules. Drawing inspiration from earthworms, which have wrinkled skins, Xu et al. created a similar surface texture on poly(ethylene terephthalate) fabric coating with poly(dimethylsiloxane) (PDMS). The PDMS is treated with an argon plasma, leading to the formation of cross links that have a graduated depth concentration profile. This causes the PDMS surface to wrinkle, which leads to water repellence. The fabrics could survive hundreds of washing or rubbing cycles, and damage to the PDMS could be repaired using heat or further argon plasma treatment.

ACS Appl. Mat. Interfaces 13, 6758 (2021).

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