Overview - designing durable surfaces to control matter accretion

Surfaces that control solid, liquid, or vapor accretion have numerous applications, including self-cleaning windows and solar panels; water and fog harvesting; antimicrobial coatings; ice-shedding coatings for airplane wings, automobiles, or wind turbine blades; and enhancing phase-change heat transport during boiling or condensation. The design of such surfaces has been influenced in part by numerous natural surfaces that can direct the accretion of different states of matter. We focus on designing durable surfaces for various matter accretion controls and building coating design principles to provide rational guidance for coating development.

Review articles

  1. Dhyani, A., Wang, J., Halvey, A. K., Macdonald, B., Mehta, G., & Tuteja, A. (2021). Design and applications of surfaces that control the accretion of matter. Science, 373(6552), eaba5010.

  2. Halvey, A. K., Macdonald, B., Dhyani, A., & Tuteja, A. (2019). Design of surfaces for controlling hard and soft fouling. Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society A, 377(2138), 20180266.

  3. Kota, A. K., Kwon, G., & Tuteja, A. (2014). The design and applications of superomniphobic surfaces. NPG Asia Materials, 6(7), e109-e109.

  4. Kota, A. K., Mabry, J. M., & Tuteja, A. (2013). Superoleophobic surfaces: design criteria and recent studies. Surface Innovations, 1(2), 71-83.

  5. Kota, A. K., Choi, W., & Tuteja, A. (2013). Superomniphobic surfaces: Design and durability. MRS bulletin, 38(5), 383-390.

  6. Dhyani, A., Choi, W., Golovin, K., & Tuteja, A. (2022). Surface design strategies for mitigating ice and snow accretion. Matter, 5(5), 1423-1454.

Liquid Repellency

Over the past two decades, surface design approaches in liquid repellency have moved from controlling the wetting of a single high–surface tension liquid, such as water, to other singular but more challenging phases, such as low–surface tension organic liquids. More recently, surfaces have been developed to manifest control over dual-phase mixtures, such as water-oil mixtures, and complex fluids, such as blood. We aim for designing various liquid-repellent coatings to meet different requirements, such as flexibility, transparency, durability, and repellency of both high and low surface tension liquids.

Related articles

  1. Halvey, A. K., Macdonald, B., Golovin, K., Boban, M., Dhyani, A., Lee, D. H., ... & Tuteja, A. (2021). Rapid and Robust Surface Treatment for Simultaneous Solid and Liquid Repellency. ACS Applied Materials & Interfaces, 13(44), 53171-53180.

  2. Li, C., Boban, M., Beebe, J. M., Bhagwagar, D. E., Liu, J., & Tuteja, A. (2021). Non-Fluorinated, Superhydrophobic Binder-Filler Coatings on Smooth Surfaces: Controlled Phase Separation of Particles to Enhance Mechanical Durability. Langmuir, 37(10), 3104-3112.

  3. Boban, M., Golovin, K., Tobelmann, B., Gupte, O., Mabry, J. M., & Tuteja, A. (2018). Smooth, all-solid, low-hysteresis, omniphobic surfaces with enhanced mechanical durability. ACS applied materials & interfaces, 10(14), 11406-11413.

  4. Golovin, K., Boban, M., Mabry, J. M., & Tuteja, A. (2017). Designing self-healing superhydrophobic surfaces with exceptional mechanical durability. ACS applied materials & interfaces, 9(12), 11212-11223.

  5. Bielinski, A. R., Boban, M., He, Y., Kazyak, E., Lee, D. H., Wang, C., ... & Dasgupta, N. P. (2017). Rational design of hyperbranched nanowire systems for tunable superomniphobic surfaces enabled by atomic layer deposition. ACS nano, 11(1), 478-489.

  6. Golovin, K., Lee, D. H., Mabry, J. M., & Tuteja, A. (2013). Transparent, Flexible, Superomniphobic Surfaces with Ultra‐Low Contact Angle Hysteresis. Angewandte Chemie, 125(49), 13245-13249.

  7. Kobaku, S. P., Kota, A. K., Lee, D. H., Mabry, J. M., & Tuteja, A. (2012). Patterned Superomniphobic–Superomniphilic Surfaces: Templates for Site‐Selective Self‐Assembly. Angewandte Chemie, 124(40), 10256-10260.

  8. Kota, A. K., Li, Y., Mabry, J. M., & Tuteja, A. (2012). Hierarchically structured superoleophobic surfaces with ultralow contact angle hysteresis. Advanced materials, 24(43), 5838-5843.

  9. Campos, R., Guenthner, A. J., Meuler, A. J., Tuteja, A., Cohen, R. E., McKinley, G. H., ... & Mabry, J. M. (2012). Superoleophobic surfaces through control of sprayed-on stochastic topography. Langmuir, 28(25), 9834-9841.

  10. Chhatre, S. S., Choi, W., Tuteja, A., Park, K. C., Mabry, J. M., McKinley, G. H., & Cohen, R. E. (2010). Scale dependence of omniphobic mesh surfaces. Langmuir, 26(6), 4027-4035.

  11. Choi, W., Tuteja, A., Mabry, J. M., Cohen, R. E., & McKinley, G. H. (2009). A modified Cassie–Baxter relationship to explain contact angle hysteresis and anisotropy on non-wetting textured surfaces. Journal of colloid and interface science, 339(1), 208-216.

  12. Chhatre, S. S., Tuteja, A., Choi, W., Revaux, A., Smith, D., Mabry, J. M., ... & Cohen, R. E. (2009). Thermal annealing treatment to achieve switchable and reversible oleophobicity on fabrics. Langmuir, 25(23), 13625-13632.

  13. Choi, W., Tuteja, A., Chhatre, S., Mabry, J. M., Cohen, R. E., & McKinley, G. H. (2009). Fabrics with tunable oleophobicity. Advanced Materials, 21(21), 2190-2195.

  14. Tuteja, A., Choi, W., Mabry, J. M., McKinley, G. H., & Cohen, R. E. (2008). Robust omniphobic surfaces. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 105(47), 18200-18205.

  15. Tuteja, A., Choi, W., McKinley, G. H., Cohen, R. E., & Rubner, M. F. (2008). Design parameters for superhydrophobicity and superoleophobicity. MRS bulletin, 33(8), 752-758.

  16. Tuteja, A., Choi, W., Ma, M., Mabry, J. M., Mazzella, S. A., Rutledge, G. C., ... & Cohen, R. E. (2007). Designing superoleophobic surfaces. Science, 318(5856), 1618-1622.

Membrane Separation

Separation operations are critical across a wide variety of manufacturing industries and account for about one-quarter of all in-plant energy consumption in the United States. Conventional liquid–liquid separation operations require either thermal or chemical treatment, both of which have a large environmental impact and carbon footprint. Consequently, there is a great need to develop sustainable, clean methodologies for separation of miscible liquid mixtures.

Related articles

  1. Kwon, G., Post, E. R., Kota, A. K., Li, C., Speer, D. L., Guenthner, A. J., ... & Tuteja, A. (2021). Continuous Liquid–Liquid Extraction and in-Situ Membrane Separation of Miscible Liquid Mixtures. Langmuir, 37(46), 13595-13601.

  2. Kwon, G., Post, E., & Tuteja, A. (2015). Membranes with selective wettability for the separation of oil–water mixtures. MRS Communications, 5(3), 475-494.

  3. Kota, A. K., & Tuteja, A. (2013). High-efficiency, ultrafast separation of emulsified oil–water mixtures. NPG Asia Materials, 5(8), e58-e58.

  4. Kota, A. K., Kwon, G., Choi, W., Mabry, J. M., & Tuteja, A. (2012). Hygro-responsive membranes for effective oil–water separation. Nature communications, 3(1), 1-8.

  5. Kwon, G., Kota, A. K., Li, Y., Sohani, A., Mabry, J. M., & Tuteja, A. (2012). On‐demand separation of oil‐water mixtures. Advanced materials, 24(27), 3666-3671.

Ice Shedding

Ice accretion has a negative impact on critical infrastructure, as well as a range of commercial and residential activities. Icephobic surfaces are defined by an ice adhesion strength τice < 100 kPa. However, the passive removal of ice requires much lower values of τice, such as on airplane wings or power lines (τice < 20 kPa). Such low τice values are scarcely reported, and robust coatings that maintain these low values have not been reported previously. We focused on applying different mechanisms to fulfill low ice adhesion, such as interfacial slippery surface, low interfacial toughness, and so on.

Related articles

  1. Golovin, K., Dhyani, A., Thouless, M. D., & Tuteja, A. (2019). Low–interfacial toughness materials for effective large-scale deicing. Science, 364(6438), 371-375.

  2. Golovin, K., & Tuteja, A. (2017). A predictive framework for the design and fabrication of icephobic polymers. Science advances, 3(9), e1701617.

  3. Golovin, K., Kobaku, S. P., Lee, D. H., DiLoreto, E. T., Mabry, J. M., & Tuteja, A. (2016). Designing durable icephobic surfaces. Science advances, 2(3), e1501496.

Snow Shedding

The large-scale accretion of snow and ice on surfaces is a well-known risk to structural reliability, creating loads that can collapse roofs, compromise cold weather sensors, bring down power lines, and jeopardize the aerodynamics of airplane wings. More recently, there is growing recognition that photovoltaic (PV) systems in northern latitudes are also at risk from ice and snow loading. Therefore, developing a surface to facilitate snow shedding becomes a big issue.

Related articles

  1. Dhyani, A., Pike, C., Braid, J. L., Whitney, E., Burnham, L., & Tuteja, A. (2021). Facilitating Large‐Scale Snow Shedding from In‐Field Solar Arrays using Icephobic Surfaces with Low‐Interfacial Toughness. Advanced Materials Technologies, 2101032.


For some applications, ice must be removed before it accretes to an appreciable thickness. For example, even a very thin layer of accreted ice and frost can reduce the heat transfer efficiency of thermal management systems such as condenser coils used in refrigerators, the photovoltaic output of solar panels, and the optical transparency of windshields. Additional energy is required to actively defrost or remove this ice. Hence, there is a need for anti-icing surfaces that possess the ability to delay or suppress the formation or growth of ice. We focus on applying various mechanisms such as polymer brushes to develop durable anti-icing coatings.


Anti-fog or anti-fogging agents and treatments are chemicals that prevent fogging on the surface on which they are applied by inhibiting the condensation of water on the surface. However, most of the agents only provide a temporary anti-fogging effect. A long-lasting and mechanically durable anti-fogging coating is thus needed in various long-term applications.

Anti-Bacterial Surfaces

Antifouling and antibacterial surfaces are of extreme interest due to a plethora of potential applications, such as saving lives with medical devices, preventing hospital-acquired infections, and even preventing marine bio-fouling. Currently, there is no durable surface that can completely resist bio-adhesion from a variety of biomolecules for an extended period of time. Thus, a long-lasting anti-microbial coating becomes critical for this application.

Phase Transition Heat Transfer Enhancement

Due to the combination of latent heat and sensible heat, condensation and boiling are regarded as powerful tactics for heat removal, making them critical characters in energy-related processes. However, there is usually unneglectable energy loss. For example, in energy generation, 85 % of power plants rely on energy cycles including boiling and condensation; in chemical fabrication, the distillation process highly relies on boiling and condensation and contributes 50% of energy cost in the production of various chemicals and fuel. However, the energy efficiency is low (20-40%). Thus, designing a coating to enhance heat transfer is required to reduce energy consumption.

Anti-Marine Fouling

Marine biofouling is a sticky global problem due to the vast diversity of fouling organisms and adhesion mechanisms that hinder a range of maritime applications. Issues associated with marine biofouling include increased fuel consumption from drag, safety concerns from corrosion, and attenuation of sensor signals. Challenges specific to the marine environment include the development of robust fouling solutions for a diverse range of biological species and local ocean conditions, toxicity associated with commercial anti-fouling paints, and manufacturing challenges associated with coating a range of materials and non-planar geometries.

Related articles

  1. Wang, J., Lee, S., Bielinski, A. R., Meyer, K. A., Dhyani, A., Ortiz‐Ortiz, A. M., ... & Dasgupta, N. P. (2020). Rational Design of Transparent Nanowire Architectures with Tunable Geometries for Preventing Marine Fouling. Advanced Materials Interfaces, 7(17), 2000672.

Drag Reduction in Turbulent Flow

One of the exciting applications of water repellent surfaces is their use for friction drag reduction. About 60% of the fuel consumed by large ships goes directly to overcoming the frictional drag of the water. By coating the side of a ship with a superhydrophobic surface, much of this friction can be avoided.

Related articles

  1. Gose, J. W., Golovin, K., Boban, M., Tobelmann, B., Callison, E., Barros, J., ... & Ceccio, S. L. (2021). Turbulent skin friction reduction through the application of superhydrophobic coatings to a towed submerged SUBOFF body. Journal of Ship Research, 65(03), 266-274.

  2. Rajappan, A., Golovin, K., Tobelmann, B., Pillutla, V., Abhijeet, Choi, W., ... & McKinley, G. H. (2019). Influence of textural statistics on drag reduction by scalable, randomly rough superhydrophobic surfaces in turbulent flow. Physics of Fluids, 31(4), 042107.

  3. Gose, J. W., Golovin, K., Boban, M., Mabry, J. M., Tuteja, A., Perlin, M., & Ceccio, S. L. (2018). Characterization of superhydrophobic surfaces for drag reduction in turbulent flow. Journal of Fluid Mechanics, 845, 560-580.

  4. Ling, H., Srinivasan, S., Golovin, K., McKinley, G. H., Tuteja, A., & Katz, J. (2016). High-resolution velocity measurement in the inner part of turbulent boundary layers over super-hydrophobic surfaces. Journal of Fluid Mechanics, 801, 670-703.

  5. Golovin, K. B., Gose, J. W., Perlin, M., Ceccio, S. L., & Tuteja, A. (2016). Bioinspired surfaces for turbulent drag reduction. Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society A: Mathematical, Physical and Engineering Sciences, 374(2073), 20160189.

Biomedical Applications

Omniphobic Spheroid Platform

Multicellular spheroids are superior to other culture geometries in reproducing critical physiological conditions of tumors, such as the diffusion of oxygen, nutrients, waste, and drugs, leading to a more precise model of in vivo drug sensitivity and resistance. Previously reported spheroid culture platforms are often difficult to use, expensive, single-use, or mechanically unstable. Here, we report a facile, mechanically stable, high-throughput spheroid culture platform based on hierarchically textured omniphobic surfaces.

Open-channel Microfluidics

Paper has recently emerged as a promising materials platform for microfluidic devices due to its low cost, easy disposal, high surface area, capillary-based wetting, flexibility, and compatibility with a wide range of patterning and printing techniques. We have developed a method of generating omniphobic paper surfaces that are resistant to wetting by a broad range of liquids, including numerous low surface tension solvents, rather than the aqueous systems previously demonstrated.

Wettability Engendered Templated Self-assembly (WETS)

Precise control over the geometry and chemistry of multiphasic particles is of significant importance for a wide range of applications including drug delivery, vaccines and inhalation biotherapeutics, biological sensors, optical devices, and nanomotors. We have developed one of the simplest methodologies for fabricating monodisperse, multiphasic micro- and nanoparticles possessing almost any composition, projected shape, modulus, and dimensions as small as 25 nm.

Related articles

  1. Boban, M., Mehta, P., Halvey, A. K., Repetto, T., Tuteja, A., & Mehta, G. (2021). Novel Omniphobic Platform for Multicellular Spheroid Generation, Drug Screening, and On-Plate Analysis. Analytical Chemistry, 93(22), 8054-8061.

  2. Snyder, S. A., Boban, M., Li, C., VanEpps, J. S., Mehta, G., & Tuteja, A. (2020). Lysis and direct detection of coliforms on printed paper-based microfluidic devices. Lab on a Chip, 20(23), 4413-4419.

  3. Kobaku, S. P., Snyder, C. S., Karunakaran, R. G., Kwon, G., Wong, P., Tuteja, A., & Mehta, G. (2019). Wettability engendered templated self-assembly (WETS) for the fabrication of biocompatible, polymer–polyelectrolyte Janus particles. ACS Macro Letters, 8(11), 1491-1497.

  4. Li, C., Boban, M., & Tuteja, A. (2017). Open-channel, water-in-oil emulsification in paper-based microfluidic devices. Lab on a Chip, 17(8), 1436-1441.

  5. Li, C., Boban, M., Snyder, S. A., Kobaku, S. P., Kwon, G., Mehta, G., & Tuteja, A. (2016). Paper‐based surfaces with extreme wettabilities for novel, open‐channel microfluidic devices. Advanced Functional Materials, 26(33), 6121-6131.

  6. Kobaku, S. P., Kwon, G., Kota, A. K., Karunakaran, R. G., Wong, P., Lee, D. H., & Tuteja, A. (2015). Wettability engendered templated self-assembly (WETS) for fabricating multiphasic particles. Acs Applied Materials & Interfaces, 7(7), 4075-4080.