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Antifogging abilities of model nanotextures


Nanometre-scale features with special shapes impart a broad spectrum of unique properties to the surface of insects. These properties are essential for the animal’s survival, and include the low light reflectance of moth eyes, the oil repellency of springtail carapaces and the ultra-adhesive nature of palmtree bugs. Antireflective mosquito eyes and cicada wings are also known to exhibit some antifogging and self-cleaning properties. In all cases, the combination of small feature size and optimal shape provides exceptional surface properties. In this work, we investigate the underlying antifogging mechanism in model materials designed to mimic natural systems, and explain the importance of the texture’s feature size and shape. While exposure to fog strongly compromises the water-repellency of hydrophobic structures, this failure can be minimized by scaling the texture down to nanosize. This undesired effect even becomes non-measurable if the hydrophobic surface consists of nanocones, which generate antifogging efficiency close to unity and water departure of droplets smaller than 2 μm.

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Figure 1: Hot drops on hydrophobic pillars.
Figure 2: Adhesion of cold and hot water on materials A and B.
Figure 3: Comparison of the adhesion of hot drops on nanopillars and on nanocones.
Figure 4: Condensation of water from a supersaturated atmosphere on nanoscale cones and pillars.


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We thank Direction Générale de l’Armement (DGA) for contributing to the financial support, R.-M. Sauvage for her constant interest, and Thales for cofunding this project. Research carried out at Brookhaven National Laboratory is supported by the US Department of Energy, Office of Basic Energy Sciences, under Contract No. DE-SC0012704 and used resources of the Center for Functional Nanomaterials, which is a US DOE Office of Science Facility. We finally thank R. Labbé for help in the design of experiments, and M.-S.-L. Lee and B. Loiseaux from Thales Research and Technology for many fruitful discussions.

Author information




T.Mouterde and D.Q. conceived the project, T.Mouterde, G.L., T.Midavaine., C.C. and D.Q. designed the project, G.L. and S.X. produced samples B1–3, A.C., A.R. and C.T.B. produced samples A and C, T.Mouterde and A.C. performed experiments and analyses, T.Mouterde, C.C. and D.Q. discussed the models, and T.Mouterde and D.Q. wrote the manuscript with inputs from all other authors.

Corresponding authors

Correspondence to Timothée Mouterde or David Quéré.

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The authors declare no competing financial interests.

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Mouterde, T., Lehoucq, G., Xavier, S. et al. Antifogging abilities of model nanotextures. Nature Mater 16, 658–663 (2017).

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