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

Industrial programs usually phone for surfaces created to catch the attention of or repel water. EU-funded researchers are devising new approaches to characterise and manufacture these surfaces and will make their results public in a new Open up Innovation Ecosystem.


© PRUSSIA Art, #278535975 resource:inventory.adobe.com 2020

The leaf of the lotus flower is famed for its means to drop water and keep by itself clean up and dry. Can we find out from biology and design and style components with identical homes? That is the goal of the 14 educational and industrial partners in the EU-funded OYSTER task who are exploring the ‘wettability’ of surfaces and how they can be engineered to buy.

‘Most components are possibly in get hold of with the environment or with water or other liquids,’ states task coordinator Marco Sebastiani, from the University of Roma Tre in Italy. ‘So, you may possibly want to control how the water interacts with all those surfaces.’ A floor that repels water, like the lotus leaf, is mentioned to be hydrophobic. A floor that attracts water is hydrophilic.

The impetus behind the task came from market. One business was in search of new hydrophilic components for gentle get hold of lenses while a different desired to make hydrophobic aircraft windows that drop water and are self-cleansing. ‘These were two completely distinctive programs but the scientific dilemma was the identical: initially of all, how to control the wettability by engineering the surfaces and then how to evaluate the wettability.’

Triangular solution

OYSTER is based on what Sebastiani calls a ‘triangle’ of a few pillars: characterisation, producing and modelling. First, the task is functioning with the European Products Characterisation Council to design and style normal approaches for measuring and characterising the wettability homes of surfaces.

Then researchers will use advanced producing and coating systems to generate surfaces of specified wettability. ‘We also want to build designs that can forecast what the wettability will be by modifying the chemistry or morphology of the floor. So, we are functioning on these a few primary pillars and hoping to carry these advanced programs to actual industrial goods.’

Now at the midway point of the 4-year task, the researchers will shortly full a series of protocols for measuring wettability and other floor homes. ‘We are already tests samples from the industrial partners,’ Sebastiani states. ‘Next we will use the protocols to design and style and generate new components with controlled wettability.’

Open up innovation

Whilst the project’s rapid goal is to generate alternatives for the healthcare and aeronautics sectors, a different goal is for OYSTER to direct the way in generating what is recognized as an Open up Innovation Ecosystem, a web system wherever researchers and companies can share concepts.

‘The results of the task will not be limited to the two primary programs and the companies included,’ Sebastiani explains. ‘We will share the info and the expertise that we will generate for the duration of the task. Then we will be in a position to obtain other companies, other SMEs in particular, that may possibly be fascinated in these programs.’

Apps could be in any discipline wherever a strong floor interacts with a liquid. Sebastiani thinks the most crucial will be prosthetic implants these as knee and hip joints, intended to bond with the encompassing tissue. ‘If you can control the wettability you can control quite finely how the cells mature on these surfaces.’

Sebastiani hosted an open working day in Brussels on 28 November to showcase OYSTER and linked assignments and, most importantly, to promote the Open up Innovation Ecosystem for market as a whole. ‘In future, there will be places for any type of industrial dilemma,’ he states. ‘This could be an engine for solving challenges coming from market in a considerably more rapidly, a lot more productive way.’