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ACS Nano. 2019 Apr 23;13(4):4083-4090. doi: 10.1021/acsnano.8b08480. Epub 2019 Mar 20.

Bioinspired Slippery Cone for Controllable Manipulation of Gas Bubbles in Low-Surface-Tension Environment.

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Key Laboratory of Bio-inspired Smart Interfacial Science and Technology of Ministry of Education, School of Chemistry, Beijing Advanced Innovation Center for Biomedical Engineering , Beihang University , Beijing 100191 , China.
School of Materials Science and Engineering , Beihang University , Beijing 100191 , China.
School of Chemical Engineering and Technology, Key Laboratory for Green Chemical Technology of Ministry of Education , Tianjin University , Tianjin 300072 , China.
Laboratory of Bio-inspired Materials and Interface Sciences , Technical Institute of Physics and Chemistry, Chinese Academy of Sciences , Beijing 100190 , China.


Manipulating bubbles in surfactant solutions or oil mediums is of vital importance in daily life and industries concerned with cosmetics, food, fermentation, mineral flotation, etc. However, realizing controllable regulation of a bubble's behavior is quite challenging in a low-surface-tension aqueous environment, which is mainly attributed to the strong affinity of liquid molecules to a solid surface to prevent the efficient interaction of gas bubbles with the solid surface. To address these issues, herein, we have taken inspiration from cactus spines and pitcher plants to develop a slippery copper cone (SCC), which can facilely manipulate gas bubble in surfactant solutions (as low as ∼29.9 mN/m, 20 °C), e. g., directional and continuous transportation of gas bubbles. This intriguing capability mainly originates from the cooperation of the conical morphology engendering a Laplace pressure and the slippery surface with low friction force but high affinity to bubbles. In addition, the SCC also shows an elegant capability of transporting gas bubbles in various organic solvents, such as formamide (57.4 mN/m, 20 °C), glycol (46.5 mN/m, 20 °C), dibutyl phthalate (37.0 mN/m, 20 °C), and dimethylformamide (35.8 mN/m, 20 °C). Furthermore, the prepared SCC also demonstrated distinguished feasibility in antibuoyancy bubble delivery, efficient collection of acidic CO2 microbubbles, and the underwater reaction of hydrogen and oxygen, endowing it with promising applications in various complex low-surface-tension environments.


Laplace pressure; bioinspired slippery copper cone; gas bubble; low-surface-tension environment; spontaneous and directional delivery


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