Surface Energy Print E-mail

In order to understand how hydrophilic (water loving) surfaces can be turned into hydrophobic (water repelling) surfaces, it is important to know how the concept of surface energy / surface tension works.

 

In general, all molecules in a liquid aim to lower their energy state by bonding with a certain number of molecules in their vicinity.

For example, with water H2O molecules try to bond with other H2O molecules around them.

 

However, molecules in liquid solutions cannot bond with all kinds of molecules, especially dissimilar ones (e.g. with a different polarity), generating a “wall tension” of molecules on the surface of the liquid that are unable to fully bond with other, similar molecules in all directions. Highly fluid liquids like water would therefore always form spherical shapes in the absence of other forces like gravity as it allows a maximum number of molecules inside the shape to bond with other molecules in all possible directions.

 

Surfaces like glass or porcelain are called hydrophilic (water loving) as they are easy for polar solvents (like water) to bond with. Though the bond is not stable, it means that molecules inside the liquid or solvent can temporarily lower their energy state by bonding with the molecules of the solid surface.

Therefore, water spreads out flat on a hydrophilic surface like glass. This effect is the more evident the bigger the water drop is, as a bigger water drop necessarily has a bigger wall tension (and accordingly there is a higher incentive for molecules on the liquid’s surface to temporarily bond with other molecules).

 

To lower the bonding ability between the solid surface and the liquid (when external factors like gravity and the polarity of the liquid cannot be changed) we need to change the polarity of the surface itself, thereby changing its bonding behavior with polar substances like water. Once the solid surface is modified, water can then bond with itself and can more easily form its natural round shape and run off the glass, while other substances (e.g. limescale) will not bond well to the surface either.

 

After application, the Ultraclean Glass™/ Porcelain™ CONVERTER, becomes an invisible part of the surface and, by lowering the surface energy, gives the liquid’s molecules less incentive to bond with it.

Therefore, we see an effect similar to lotus leaves: water splits up in drops and forms spherical shapes as the energy within the water drop is higher than the energy at the contact area of the water and the surface.

 
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