Wetting Properties of Graphene Aerogels

Graphene hydrophobic coatings paved the way towards a new generation of optoelectronic and fluidic devices. Nevertheless, such hydrophobic thin films rely only on graphene non-polar surface, rather than taking advantage of its surface roughness. Furthermore, graphene is typically not self-standing. Differently, carbon aerogels have high porosity, large effective surface area due to their surface roughness, and very low mass density, which make them a promising candidate as a super-hydrophobic material for novel technological applications. However, despite a few works reporting the general super-hydrophobic and lipophilic behavior of the carbon aerogels, a detailed characterization of their wetting properties is still missing, to date. Here, the wetting properties of graphene aerogels are demonstrated in detail. Without any chemical functionalization or patterning of their surface, the samples exhibit a super-lipophilic state and a stationary super-hydrophobic state with a contact angle up to 150 ± 15° and low contact angle hysteresis  ≈ 15°, owing to the fakir effect. In addition, the adhesion force of the graphene aerogels in contact with the water droplets and their surface tension are evaluated. For instance, the unique wettability and enhanced liquid absorption of the graphene aerogels can be exploited for reducing contamination from oil spills and chemical leakage accidents.


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