Wettability – made and measured to order – Information Centre – Research & Innovation

Industrial purposes frequently contact for surfaces built to appeal to or repel water. EU-funded scientists are devising new solutions to characterise and manufacture this kind of surfaces and will make their findings community in a new Open Innovation Setting.

© PRUSSIA Artwork, #278535975 source:stock.adobe.com 2020

The leaf of the lotus flower is famed for its potential to shed water and keep by itself cleanse and dry. Can we master from biology and structure resources with very similar homes? That is the objective of the 14 educational and industrial associates in the EU-funded OYSTER venture who are checking out the ‘wettability’ of surfaces and how they can be engineered to buy.

‘Most resources are both in get hold of with the atmosphere or with water or other liquids,’ states venture coordinator Marco Sebastiani, from the College of Roma Tre in Italy. ‘So, you may possibly want to command how the water interacts with individuals surfaces.’ A surface that repels water, like the lotus leaf, is stated to be hydrophobic. A surface that appeals to water is hydrophilic.

The impetus powering the venture arrived from marketplace. One business was trying to find new hydrophilic resources for gentle get hold of lenses although another wanted to make hydrophobic aircraft home windows that shed water and are self-cleaning. ‘These have been two fully unique purposes but the scientific problem was the same: initially of all, how to command the wettability by engineering the surfaces and then how to measure the wettability.’

Triangular method

OYSTER is dependent on what Sebastiani calls a ‘triangle’ of a few pillars: characterisation, production and modelling. First, the venture is working with the European Products Characterisation Council to structure regular solutions for measuring and characterising the wettability homes of surfaces.

Then scientists will use superior production and coating technologies to develop surfaces of specified wettability. ‘We also want to develop models that can predict what the wettability will be by altering the chemistry or morphology of the surface. So, we are working on these a few main pillars and seeking to convey these superior purposes to actual industrial solutions.’

Now at the halfway issue of the four-calendar year venture, the scientists will soon complete a series of protocols for measuring wettability and other surface homes. ‘We are currently tests samples from the industrial associates,’ Sebastiani states. ‘Next we will use the protocols to structure and develop new resources with managed wettability.’

Open innovation

Even though the project’s quick objective is to deliver alternatives for the health care and aeronautics sectors, another intention is for OYSTER to lead the way in generating what is acknowledged as an Open Innovation Setting, a world-wide-web platform the place scientists and providers can share suggestions.

‘The results of the venture will not be limited to the two main purposes and the providers concerned,’ Sebastiani points out. ‘We will share the info and the understanding that we will deliver in the course of the venture. Then we will be able to discover other providers, other SMEs in individual, that may possibly be interested in these purposes.’

Applications could be in any subject the place a stable surface interacts with a liquid. Sebastiani thinks the most essential will be prosthetic implants this kind of as knee and hip joints, meant to bond with the encompassing tissue. ‘If you can command the wettability you can command quite finely how the cells expand on these surfaces.’

Sebastiani hosted an open working day in Brussels on 28 November to showcase OYSTER and relevant initiatives and, most importantly, to market the Open Innovation Setting for marketplace as a complete. ‘In future, there will be places for any form of industrial problem,’ he states. ‘This could be an engine for solving issues coming from marketplace in a much more rapidly, far more helpful way.’