Letter | Published:

Adaptive fluid-infused porous films with tunable transparency and wettability

Nature Materials volume 12, pages 529534 (2013) | Download Citation

Abstract

Materials that adapt dynamically to environmental changes are currently limited to two-state switching of single properties, and only a small number of strategies that may lead to materials with continuously adjustable characteristics have been reported1,2,3. Here we introduce adaptive surfaces made of a liquid film supported by a nanoporous elastic substrate. As the substrate deforms, the liquid flows within the pores, causing the smooth and defect-free surface to roughen through a continuous range of topographies. We show that a graded mechanical stimulus can be directly translated into finely tuned, dynamic adjustments of optical transparency and wettability. In particular, we demonstrate simultaneous control of the film’s transparency and its ability to continuously manipulate various low-surface-tension droplets from free-sliding to pinned. This strategy should make possible the rational design of tunable, multifunctional adaptive materials for a broad range of applications.

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Acknowledgements

The work was supported by the AFOSR MURI award FA9550-09-1-0669-DOD35CAP (optical properties) and the ONR MURI award N00014-12-1-0875 (wetting properties). We thank T. Blough for the help in stretcher design and fabrication. We also thank M. Kolle and J. Alvarenga for the help with the optical test. We acknowledge the use of the facilities at the Harvard Center for Nanoscale Systems supported by the NSF under award ECS-0335765.

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Affiliations

  1. School of Engineering and Applied Sciences, Harvard University, Cambridge, Massachusetts 02138, USA

    • Xi Yao
    • , Yuhang Hu
    • , Alison Grinthal
    • , Tak-Sing Wong
    • , L. Mahadevan
    •  & Joanna Aizenberg
  2. Wyss Institute for Biologically Inspired Engineering, Harvard University, Cambridge, Massachusetts 02138, USA

    • Xi Yao
    • , Yuhang Hu
    • , Tak-Sing Wong
    • , L. Mahadevan
    •  & Joanna Aizenberg
  3. Kavli Institute for Bionano Science and Technology, Harvard University, Cambridge, Massachusetts 02138, USA

    • L. Mahadevan
    •  & Joanna Aizenberg

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Contributions

X.Y. and J.A. conceived the concepts of the research. J.A. supervised the research. X.Y. designed and performed the experiments. X.Y. and T-S.W. prepared samples. Y.H. and L.M. set up models. Y.H. carried out finite-element simulations. X.Y., A.G., Y.H. and J.A. wrote the manuscript. All authors contributed to revising the manuscript.

Competing interests

The authors declare no competing financial interests.

Corresponding author

Correspondence to Joanna Aizenberg.

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DOI

https://doi.org/10.1038/nmat3598

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