Royal performance

07 October 2013

Hua Zhou wins 2013 Young Science Research Prize for Physical Sciences.

Talented Deakin University researcher Hua Zhou has won The Royal Society of Victoria 2013 Young Science Research Prize for Physical Sciences.

“I want to congratulate Hua on this award,” said Professor Peter Hodgson, Director of the Institute for Frontier Materials at Deakin.

"It is an outstanding performance on her part to win such a prestigious award."

The Royal Society of Victoria has been promoting science since 1854 and annually awards prizes to third or fourth year postgraduate students in a number of categories.  

Hua Zhou’s nomination in the physical sciences category was shortlisted before she had to give a 20 minute oral presentation to her peers.  

That presentation was judged the best, gaining her not just a certificate but $1000 in prize money.

“It is a great honour to receive this award,” Hua Zhou said.

“I would like to thank the Royal Society, and also my colleagues at Deakin, particularly my supervisor, Professor Tong Lin, all of whom have been very supportive of my research.”

Hua Zhou’s research focusses on liquid repellent functional fabric and the applications of super-liquid-repellent for protective garments.

The major issue facing existing techniques for superhydrophobic fabric treatment is their ultimate low washing and abrasion durability.

Some conventional strategies employed to improve coating durability typically involves crosslinking the coating layer and/or establishing covalent bonding between the coating and substrate. However, only limited success has been achieved in this area so far. I’ve been working on this challenging issue by developing new concepts.

Inspired by a classic nanocomposite such as car tyres, polydimethylsiloxane (PDMS), filled with fluorinated alkyl silane (FAS) functionalized silica nanoparticles and fluorinated alkyl silane have been used to produce a superhydrophobic coating on fabrics.

This simple and low cost coating showed excellent water repellency and remarkable coating durability against repeated machine washes, severe abrasion damages, boiling water, strong acid or alkali.

Such a durable, robust, superhydrophobic coating may be very useful for developing self-cleaning protective textiles for various functional applications.

This is the toughest superhydrophobic coating that has ever been achieved in the world.

In my recent work, I also found a new way to achieve durable coating that is super repellent to both water and oil fluids.

The coating consists of a commonly-used, commercially-available fluoro-containing polymer, poly(vinylidene fluoride-hexafluoropropylene) (PVDF-HFP), a fluorinated alkyl silane (FAS), and  a surface modified silica nanoparticle.

The coated fabrics are very robust to withstand repeated washes, severe abrasion damages without apparently changing the superamphiphobicity. The coating is also very stable to strong acid/base, ozone and boiling treatments.

Upon being damaged chemically, the coating can restore its super liquid-repellent properties simply by a short-time heating treatment or room temperature ageing.

This is the toughest superamphiphobic coating that has ever been achieved.

This simple, but novel and effective coating system may be useful for development of robust protective clothing for various applications.

It is a great honour to receive this award, says Hua Zhou. It is a great honour to receive this award, says Hua Zhou.

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