Fabrication Optimization of Ultra-Scalable Nanostructured Aluminum-Alloy Surfaces

Longnan Li, Yukai Lin, Kazi Fazle Rabbi, Jingcheng Ma, Zhuo Chen, Ashay Patel, Wei Su, Xiaochen Ma, Kalyan Boyina, Soumyadip Sett, Debkumar Mondal, Nagano Tomohiro, Fujino Hirokazu, Nenad Miljkovic

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Aluminum and its alloys are widely used in various industries. Aluminum plays an important role in heat transfer applications, where enhancing the overall system performance through surface nanostructuring is achieved. Combining optimized nanostructures with a conformal hydrophobic coating leads to superhydrophobicity, which enables coalescence induced droplet jumping, enhanced condensation heat transfer, and delayed frosting. Hence, the development of a rapid, energy-efficient, and highly scalable fabrication method for rendering aluminum superhydrophobic is crucial. Here, we employ a simple, ultrascalable fabrication method to create boehmite nanostructures on aluminum. We systematically explore the influence of fabrication conditions such as water immersion time and immersion temperature, on the created nanostructure morphology and resultant nanostructure length scale. We achieved optimized structures and fabrication procedures for best droplet jumping performance as measured by total manufacturing energy utilization, fabrication time, and total cost. The wettability of the nanostructures was studied using the modified Cassie-Baxter model. To better differentiate performance of the fabricated superhydrophobic surfaces, we quantify the role of the nanostructure morphology to corresponding condensation and antifrosting performance through study of droplet jumping behavior and frost propagation dynamics. The effect of aluminum substrate composition (alloy) on wettability, condensation and antifrosting performance was investigated, providing important directions for proper substrate selection. Our findings indicate that the presence of trace alloying elements play a previously unobserved and important role on wettability, condensation, and frosting behavior via the inclusion of defect sites on the surface that are difficult to remove and act as pinning locations to increase liquid-solid adhesion. Our work provides optimization strategies for the fabrication of ultrascalable aluminum and aluminum alloy superhydrophobic surfaces for a variety of applications.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)43489-43504
Number of pages16
JournalACS Applied Materials and Interfaces
Issue number36
StateAccepted/In press - 2021


  • boehmite
  • defect
  • frosting
  • jumping droplet
  • nanofabrication
  • optimization
  • superhydrophobic

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Materials Science(all)


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