Microfluidics assisted frabrication of three-tier hierarchical microparticles for constructing bioinspired surfaces

Juan Wang, Hai Le The, Zuankai Wang, Hao Li, Mingliang Jin, Albert van den Berg, Guofu Zhou, Loes Segerink, Lingling Shui, Jan C.T. Eijkel

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

    38 Citations (Scopus)
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    Construction of textured bioinspired surfaces with refined structures that exhibit superior wetting properties is of great importance for many applications ranging from self-cleaning, antibiofouling, anti-icing, oil/water separation, smart membrane, and microfluidic devices. Previously, the preparation of artificial surfaces generally relies on the combination of different approaches together, which is a lack of flexibility to control over the individual architecture unit, the surface topology, as well as the complex procedure needed. In this work, we report a method for rapid fabrication of three-tier hierarchical microunits (structures consisting of multiple levels) using a facile droplet microfluidics approach. These units include the first-tier microspheres consisting of the second-tier close-packed polystyrene (PS) nanoparticles decorated with the third-tier elegant polymer nanowrinkles. These nanowrinkles on the PS nanoparticles are formed according to the interfacial instability induced by gradient photopolymerization of N-isopropylacrylamide (NIPAM) monomers. The formation process and topologies of nanowrinkles can be regulated by the photopolymerization process and the fraction of carboxylic groups on the PS nanoparticle surface. Such a hierarchical microsphere mimics individual units of bioinspired surfaces. Therefore, the surfaces from self-assembly of these fabricated two-tier and three-tier hierarchical microunits collectively exhibit “gecko” and “rose petal” wetting states, with the micro- and nanoscale structures amplifying the initial hydrophobicity but still being highly adhesive to water. This approach offers promising advantages of high-yield fabrication, precise control over the size and component of the microspheres, and integration of microfluidic droplet generation, colloidal nanoparticle self-assembly, and interfacial polymerization-induced nanowrinkles in a straightforward manner.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)3638-3648
    Number of pages11
    JournalACS nano
    Issue number3
    Publication statusPublished - 11 Mar 2019


    • bioinspired surface
    • hierarchical structure
    • microfluidics
    • nanowrinkle
    • three-tier


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