Ultra-resilient multi-layer fluorinated diamond like carbon hydrophobic surfaces

Nat Commun. 2023 Aug 14;14(1):4902. doi: 10.1038/s41467-023-40229-6.


Seventy percent of global electricity is generated by steam-cycle power plants. A hydrophobic condenser surface within these plants could boost overall cycle efficiency by 2%. In 2022, this enhancement equates to an additional electrical power generation of 1000 TWh annually, or 83% of the global solar electricity production. Furthermore, this efficiency increase reduces CO2 emissions by 460 million tons /year with a decreased use of 2 trillion gallons of cooling water per year. However, the main challenge with hydrophobic surfaces is their poor durability. Here, we show that solid microscale-thick fluorinated diamond-like carbon (F-DLC) possesses mechanical and thermal properties that ensure durability in moist, abrasive, and thermally harsh conditions. The F-DLC coating achieves this without relying on atmospheric interactions, infused lubricants, self-healing strategies, or sacrificial surface designs. Through tailored substrate adhesion and multilayer deposition, we develop a pinhole-free F-DLC coating with low surface energy and comparable Young’s modulus to metals. In a three-year steam condensation experiment, the F-DLC coating maintains hydrophobicity, resulting in sustained and improved dropwise condensation on multiple metallic substrates. Our findings provide a promising solution to hydrophobic material fragility and can enhance the sustainability of renewable and non-renewable energy sources.

PMID:37580321 | PMC:PMC10425355 | DOI:10.1038/s41467-023-40229-6


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