Superhydrophobic and Oleophobic UV-Curable Surface Engineering of Cellulose-Based Substrates
Cellulose-based materials are one of the most widely used materials provided by nature to mankind. In particular, cotton fibers have been used for millennia to produce clothing items. This wide usage stems from the inherent properties of cotton fabrics such as hydrophilicity and permeability to water vapor. However, increasingly sophisticated uses for cotton-based clothing (e.g., technical textiles) demand specific properties such as hydrophobicity and oleophobicity for repellent functions. The current surface treatments used to attain these functionalities are based on thermally initiated polymerization reactions, using water-based formulations. Thus, the current technologies are energy- and water-intensive. The advantages of using alternative polymerization routes based on actinic radiation are thus clear and include lower energy consumptions, increased processing speeds and smaller plant space. However, example current drawbacks include issues related to the loss of substrate flexibility, breathability and hand. In order to overcome these issues, a durable surface treatment has been developed based on UV-curable polymeric materials that provide superhydrophobic and oleophobic properties to cotton substrates, maintaining intrinsic useful properties of cotton fabrics such as pleasant hand. In this article are reported the innovative surface treatment formulations and procedures developed.
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