Novel functional surfaces for chemical reaction and water treatment

A liquid crystal infused porous surface for diagnosing and treating wastewater.

The Need

In various industries, there is a growing need for surfaces that can effectively repel water and resist fouling by oily contaminants. Traditional superhydrophobic surfaces, while excellent at repelling water, are easily fouled, limiting their practical applications.

The Technology

A team of The Ohio State University researches, led by Dr. William Wang, have developed novel liquid crystal-infused surfaces with complex functionalities for wastewater diagnosis and treatment. By introducing stimuli-responsive functional surfaces, specifically, Slippery Liquid-Infused Porous Surfaces (SLIPS) lubricated with a chemically matched film. The innovation lies in the use of thermotropic liquid crystals to provide unprecedented complexities and functionalities to SLIPS, creating Liquid Crystal-Infused Porous Surfaces (LCIPS).These surfaces are designed with tunable reactivity that can degrade toxic organic substances in water. Moreover, these surfaces can capture heavy metal ions that have been shown to cause physical, muscular, and neurological diseases. The technology also allows for the precipitation of heavy metal ions from water droplets by doping the liquid crystal surface with aqueous droplets of sulfide anions.

Commercial Applications

  • Wastewater Treatment: LCIPS can be used in wastewater diagnosis and treatment devices, with improved efficiency of removing organic and heavy metal pollutants.
  • Anti-Biofouling: The anti-biofouling properties of LCIPS make them suitable for medical devices and marine applications.
  • Anti-Icing: LCIPS can be used in aviation and other industries where ice accumulation is a concern.
  • Water Treatment Facilities:
  • Industrial Wastewater Management: Provide a solution for industries that produce wastewater containing heavy metals.
  • Environmental Monitoring: Use as a diagnostic tool to monitor the presence of heavy metals in bodies of water.


  • Efficient: The technology has shown high efficiency over 12 consecutive cycles.
  • Improved Water Repellency: LCIPS offer superior water repellency compared to traditional superhydrophobic surfaces.
  • Resistance to Oily Contaminants: Unlike superhydrophobic surfaces, LCIPS resist fouling by oily contaminants.
  • Versatility: The use of thermotropic liquid crystals allows for a broad range of functional and responsive systems.
  • Safe: The concentration of leftover heavy metal ions in aqueous droplets was measured to be less than 1 ppm.
  • Self-Cleaning: The liquid crystal surfaces can self-sense and self-clean pollutants in water.

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