Surface modification of metals and alloys to alter wetting properties, Inventor: Krishna Kota, US 10,907,258.
Dr. Krishna Kota has been awarded a new patent that describes an approach for dramatically changing the wetting properties of metal and metal alloy surfaces. Most materials can be classified as either wetting or non-wetting to liquids. For example, water wets aluminum and copper more easily than a lotus leaf. The wetting nature of materials to many liquids can be changed by modifying their surface roughness features or by adding coatings. As an example, water can wet copper and aluminum surfaces only reasonably well but by adding coatings or using cleanroom fabrication techniques for changing the surface roughness, these metals can be made highly wetting for water. However, most of the current surface modification approaches suffer from one or more issues of poor durability, low robustness, and high cost. In addition, these approaches consume time to implement and may not be suitable for applying on curved surfaces or surfaces that are hidden inside parts and often need the presence of trained personnel. Coatings could also suffer from the possibility of peeling off and pose a thermal barrier in applications such as cooling of electronics and heat exchangers in power plants or thermal desalination units.
Kota says that this new surface modification approach can be used to create robust metallic surfaces that can be made to behave either as a paper towel (extreme wetting or hydrophilic) or as a lotus leaf (non-wetting or hydrophobic) using the same basic process. Metallic surfaces with extreme wetting characteristics find numerous applications, e.g., in generating low-friction surfaces in water pipes, anti-icing surfaces, heat exchange surfaces, micro-fluidic control, and self-cleaning surfaces to name a few. This new approach is cheap and does not need trained personnel to implement it. It only takes a few minutes to hours depending on the application and can be applied to large areas, curved surfaces, or hidden surfaces with ease without causing any change (or damage) in the material properties, structural integrity, and the aesthetics of finished parts and without the need to disassemble them. The approach is based on wet etching using a novel combination of safe-to-use etching solution and does not involve coatings. Companies interested in this technology could contact either Dr. Krishna Kota (firstname.lastname@example.org) or the NMSU Arrowhead Center (https://arrowheadcenter.nmsu.edu/).