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Phys Rev Lett. 2011 Jan 7;106(1):014502. Epub 2011 Jan 7.

Underwater restoration and retention of gases on superhydrophobic surfaces for drag reduction.

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Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering Department, University of California Los Angeles, Los Angeles, California 90095, USA.


Superhydrophobic (SHPo) surfaces have shown promise for passive drag reduction because their surface structures can hold a lubricating gas film between the solid surface and the liquid in contact with it. However, the types of SHPo surfaces that would produce any meaningful amount of reduction get wet under liquid pressure or at surface defects, both of which are unavoidable in the real world. In this Letter, we solve the above problem by (1) discovering surface structures that allow the restoration of a gas blanket from a wetted state while fully immersed underwater and (2) devising a self-controlled gas-generation mechanism that maintains the SHPo condition under high liquid pressures (tested up to 7 atm) as well as in the presence of surface defects, thus removing a fundamental barrier against the implementation of SHPo surfaces for drag reduction.

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