This research introduces a novel approach to control light transmittance based on flexible polydimethylsiloxane (PDMS) films that have been plasma-treated such that micro-scale surface features have a visual effect as the film responds to applied strain. The effect is continuously tunable from optically clear (71.5% Transmittance over a 400–900 nm wavelength) to completely diffuse (18.1% T). Changes in the film's optical properties are triggered by bi-axial strains applied using a pneumatic system to form pressurized envelopes. This paper reports on a series of experimental studies and provides system integration research using prototypes, simulations and geometric models to correlate measured optical properties, strain, and global surface curvatures. In conclusion, a design is proposed to integrate PDMS light control within existing building envelopes.
Two alternatives are investigated and compared: System A uses positive pressure featuring an exterior grid to restrain and shape the inflated film during expansion; System B uses negative pressure where the films are shaped according to the geometry of an interstitial grid that serves as a spacer between two film surfaces. Both systems can provide effective control of opacity levels using pneumatic pressure and may be suitable for use with existing glazing systems or ethylene tetrafluoroethylene (ETFE) pneumatic envelopes.
Flexible and stretchable microscale fluidic devices have a broad range of potential applications, ranging from electronic wearable devices for convenient digital lifestyle to biomedical devices. However, simple ways to achieve stable flexible and stretchable fluidic microchannels with dynamic liquid transport have been challenging because every application for elastomeric microchannels is restricted by their complex fabrication process and limited material selection. Here, a universal strategy for building microfluidic devices that possess exceptionally stable and stretching properties is shown. The devices exhibit superior mechanical deformability, including high strain (967%) and recovery ability, where applications as both strain sensor and pressure-flow regulating device are demonstrated. Various microchannels are combined with organic, inorganic, and metallic materials as stable composite microfluidics. Furthermore, with surface chemical modification these stretchable microfluidic devices can also obtain antifouling property to suit for a broad range of industrial and biomedical applications.
Passive anti-icing surfaces, or icephobic surfaces, are an area of great interest because of their significant economic, energy and safety implications in the prevention and easy removal of ice in many facets of society. The complex nature of icephobicity, which requires performance in a broad range of icing scenarios, creates many challenges when designing ice-repellent surfaces. Although superhydrophobic surfaces incorporating micro- or nanoscale roughness have been shown to prevent ice accumulation under certain conditions, the same roughness can be detrimental in other environments. Surfaces that present a smooth liquid interface can eliminate some of the drawbacks of textured superhydrophobic surfaces, but additional study is needed to fully realize their potential. As attention begins to shift towards alternative anti-icing strategies, it is important to consider and to understand the nature of ice repellency in all environments to identify the limitations of current solutions and to design new materials with robust icephobicity.
The stability and longevity of surface-stabilized lubricant layers is a critical question in their application as low- and nonfouling slippery surface treatments in both industry and medicine. Here, we investigate lubricant loss from surfaces under flow in water using both quantitative analysis and visualization, testing the effects of underlying surface type (nanostructured versus flat), as well as flow rate in the physiologically relevant range, lubricant type, and time. We find lubricant losses on the order of only ng/cm2 in a closed system, indicating that these interfaces are relatively stable under the flow conditions tested. No notable differences emerged between surface type, flow rate, lubricant type, or time. However, exposure of the lubricant layers to an air/water interface did significantly increase the amount of lubricant removed from the surface, leading to disruption of the layer. These results may help in the development and design of materials using surface-immobilized lubricant interfaces for repellency under flow conditions.
The deep building layouts typical in the U.S. have led to a nearly complete reliance on artificial lighting in standard office buildings. The development of daylight control systems that maximize the penetration and optimize the distribution of natural daylight in buildings has the potential for saving a significant portion of the energy consumed by artificial lighting, but existing systems are either static, costly, or obstruct views towards the outside. We report the Dynamic Daylight Control System (DDCS) that in- tegrates a thin cast transparent polydimethylsiloxane (PDMS)-based deformable array of louvers and waveguides within a millimeter-scale fluidic channel system. This system can be dynamically tuned to the different climates and sun positions to control daylight quality and distribution in the interior space. The series of qualitative and quantitative tests confirmed that DDCS exceeds conventional double glazing system in terms of reducing glare near the window and distributing light to the rear of the space. The system can also be converted to a visually transparent or a translucent glazing by filling the channels with an appropriate fluid. DDCS can be integrated or retrofitted to conventional glazing systems and allow for diffusivity and transmittance control.
Omniphobic fluorogel elastomers were prepared by photocuring perfluorinated acrylates and a perfluoropolyether crosslinker. By tuning either the chemical composition or the temperature that control the crystallinity of the resulting polymer chains, a broad range of optical and mechanical properties of the fluorogel can be achieved. After infusing with fluorinated lubricants, the fluorogels showed excellent resist- ance to wetting by various liquids and anti-biofouling behavior, while maintaining cytocompatiblity.
Inspired by the long-term effectiveness of living antifouling materials, we have developed a method for the self- replenishment of synthetic biofouling-release surfaces. These surfaces are created by either molding or directly embedding 3D vascular systems into polydimethylsiloxane (PDMS) and filling them with a silicone oil to generate a nontoxic oil- infused material. When replenished with silicone oil from an outside source, these materials are capable of self-lubrication and continuous renewal of the interfacial fouling-release layer. Under accelerated lubricant loss conditions, fully infused vascularized samples retained significantly more lubricant than equivalent nonvascularized controls. Tests of lubricant-infused PDMS in static cultures of the infectious bacteria Staphylococcus aureus and Escherichia coli as well as the green microalgae Botryococcus braunii, Chlamydomonas reinhardtii, Dunaliella salina, and Nannochloropsis oculata showed a significant reduction in biofilm adhesion compared to PDMS and glass controls containing no lubricant. Further experiments on vascularized versus nonvascularized samples that had been subjected to accelerated lubricant evaporation conditions for up to 48 h showed significantly less biofilm adherence on the vascularized surfaces. These results demonstrate the ability of an embedded lubricant-filled vascular network to improve the longevity of fouling-release surfaces.
Lubricant-infused textured solid substrates are gaining remarkable interest as a new class of omni-repellent nonfouling materials and surface coatings. We investigated the effect of the length scale and hierarchy of the surface topography of the underlying substrates on their ability to retain the lubricant under high shear conditions, which is important for maintaining nonwetting properties under application-relevant conditions. By comparing the lubricant loss, contact angle hysteresis, and sliding angles for water and ethanol droplets on flat, microscale, nanoscale, and hierarchically textured surfaces subjected to various spinning rates (from 100 to 10 000 rpm), we show that lubricant-infused textured surfaces with uniform nanofeatures provide the most shear-tolerant liquid-repellent behavior, unlike lotus leaf-inspired superhydrophobic surfaces, which generally favor hierarchical structures for improved pressure stability and low contact angle hysteresis. On the basis of these findings, we present generalized, low-cost, and scalable methods to manufacture uniform or regionally patterned nanotextured coatings on arbitrary materials and complex shapes. After functionalization and lubrication, these coatings show robust, shear-tolerant omniphobic behavior, transparency, and nonfouling properties against highly contaminating media.
Ice repellent coatings have been studied and keenly sought after for many years, where any advances in the durability of such coatings will result in huge energy savings across many fields. Progress in creating anti-ice and anti-frost surfaces has been particularly rapid since the discovery and development of slippery, liquid infused porous surfaces (SLIPS). Here we use SLIPS-coated differential scanning calorimeter (DSC) pans to investigate the effects of the surface modification on the nucleation of supercooled water. This investigation is inherently different from previous studies which looked at the adhesion of ice to SLIPS surfaces, or the formation of ice under high humidity conditions. Given the stochastic nature of nucleation of ice from supercooled water, multiple runs on the same sample are needed to determine if a given surface coating has a real and statistically significant effect on the nucleation temperature. We have cycled supercooling to freezing and then thawing of deionized water in hydrophilic (untreated aluminum), hydrophobic, superhydrophobic, and SLIPS-treated DSC pans multiple times to determine the effects of surface treatment on the nucleation and subsequent growth of ice. We find that SLIPS coatings lower the nucleation temperature of supercooled water in contact with statistical significance and show no deterioration or change in the coating performance even after 150 freeze–thaw cycles.
Rational design strategies for mechano‐responsive optical material systems are created by introducing a simple experimental system that can continuously vary the state of bi‐axial stress to induce various wrinkling patterns, including stripes, labyrinths, herringbones, and rarely observed checkerboards, that can dynamically tune the optical properties. In particular, a switching of two orthogonally oriented stripe wrinkle patterns from oxidized polydimethylsiloxane around the critical strain value is reported, as well as the coexistence of these wrinkles forming elusive checkerboard patterns, which are predicted only in previous simulations. These strain‐induced wrinkle patterns give rise to dynamic changes in optical transmittance and diffraction patterns. A theoretical description of the observed pattern formation is presented which accounts for the residual stress in the membrane and allows for the fine‐tuning of the window of switching of the orthogonal wrinkles. Applications of wrinkle‐induced changes in optical properties are demonstrated, including a mechanically responsive instantaneous privacy screen and a transparent sheet that reversibly reveals a message or graphic and dynamically switches the transmittance when stretched and released.