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Alkyl ketene dimer (AKD) is frequently used in paper industry as an inexpensive sizing agent. The formation of a fractal structure after curing the solidified AKD for an extra-long time (4 - 6 days) results in superhydrophobicity. In this study, a facile and low-cost method was utilized to turn AKD’s surface superhydrophobic in a very short period of time.
We fabricated a superhydrophobic layer by dipping glass and paper substrates in molten AKD and then treating them with ethanol after solidification. The samples were characterized by X-ray diffraction, Scanning electron microscopy, Fourier transform-infrared spectroscopy, X-ray photoelectron spectroscopy, Confocal laser scanning microscopy, and dynamic contact angle goniometry.
The results show that briefly treating the coatings, obtained from isothermally heated AKD melt at 40°C for 3 min, with ethanol leads to superhydrophobicity with an advancing and receding contact angle of 158.7±1.4° and 156.8±0.9°, respectively. By increasing the melt temperature to 70°C and heating time to 6 h followed by ethanol treatment, the advancing and receding contact angles increased to 163.7±1.3° and 162.6±1.2°, respectively.
This enhancement in superhydrophobicity is due to the formation of entangled irregular micro/nano textures that create air cushions on the surface resulting in droplet state transition from Wenzel to Cassie. In this method, ethanol can be used several times, and the energy consumption becomes very low. Based on the other techniques in this field, our method has eliminated the complex equipment and procedure applied in the fabrication of a superhydrophobic AKD.
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