Robust superhydrophobicity of hierarchical ZnO hollow microspheres fabricated by two-step self-assembly
Superhydrophobic and superhydrophilic surfaces have been extensively investigated due to their importance for industrial applications. It has been reported, however, that superhydrophobic surfaces are very sensitive to heat, ultraviolet (UV) light, and electric potential, which interfere with their long-term durability. In this study, we introduce a novel approach to achieve robust superhydrophobic thin films by designing architecture-defined complex nanostructures. A family of ZnO hollow microspheres with controlled constituent architectures in the morphologies of 1D nanowire networks, 2D nanosheet stacks, and 3D mesoporous nanoball blocks, respectively, was synthesized via a two-step self-assembly approach, where the oligomers or the constituent nanostructures with specially designed structures are first formed from surfactant templates, and then further assembled into complex morphologies by the addition of a second co-surfactant. The thin films composed of two-step synthesized ZnO hollow microspheres with different architectures presented superhydrophobicities with contact angles of 150°-155°, superior to the contact angle of 103° for one-step synthesized ZnO hollow microspheres with smooth and solid surfaces. Moreover, the robust superhydrophobicity was further improved by perfluorinated silane surface modification. The perfluorinated silane treated ZnO hollow microsphere thin films maintained excellent hydrophobicity even after 75 h of UV irradiation. The realization of environmentally durable superhydrophobic surfaces provides a promising solution for their long-term service under UV or strong solar light irradiations.