Intelligent Control of Surface Hydrophobicity



Switchable surfaces are highly useful materials with surface properties that change in response to external stimuli. These surfaces can be employed in both research and industrial applications, where the ability to actively control surface properties can be used to develop smart materials and intelligent surfaces. Herein, we review a range of surfaces in which hydrophobicity can be controlled. We present the principal ideas of surface switching, discuss recent developments, explore experimental issues and examine factors that influence surface switching, including the nature of the stimuli, the underlying material, the morphology of the surface and the surrounding environment. We have categorised switchable surfaces according to the stimuli that trigger changes in surface hydrophobicity. These are electrically, electrochemically, thermally, mechanically, photo- and environmentally inducible surfaces. In addition, we review the use of chemical reactions to modify the properties of switchable surfaces and produce changes in the molecular structure and nanoscale features of the surface.