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ACS Appl Mater Interfaces. 2013 Jan;5(1):179-85. doi: 10.1021/am302357t. Epub 2012 Dec 17.

Recovery of nonwetting characteristics by surface modification of gallium-based liquid metal droplets using hydrochloric acid vapor.

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Department of Electrical Engineering, The University of Texas at Dallas, Richardson, Texas 75080, United States.


The applicability of gallium-based liquid metal alloy has been limited by the oxidation problem. In this paper, we report a simple method to remove the oxide layer on the surface of such alloy to recover its nonwetting characteristics, using hydrochloric acid (HCl) vapor. Through the HCl vapor treatment, we successfully restored the nonwetting characteristics of the alloy and suppressed its viscoelasticity. We analyzed the change of surface chemistry before and after the HCl vapor treatment using X-ray photoelectron spectroscopy (XPS) and low-energy ion-scattering spectroscopy (LEIS). Results showed that the oxidized surface of the commercial gallium-based alloy Galinstan (Ga(2)O(3) and Ga(2)O) was replaced with InCl(3) and GaCl(3) after the treatment. Surface tension and static contact angle on a Teflon-coated glass of the HCl-vapor-treated Galinstan were measured to be 523.8 mN/m and 152.5°. A droplet bouncing test was successfully carried out to demonstrate the nonwetting characteristics of the HCl-vapor-treated Galinstan. Finally, the stability of the transformed surface of the HCl-vapor-treated Galinstan was investigated by measuring the contact angle and LEIS spectra after reoxidation in an ambient environment.


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