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  1. The recent global outbreaks of epidemics and pandemics have shown us that we are severely under-prepared to cope with infectious agents. Exposure to infectious agents present in biofluids ( e.g. , blood, saliva, urine etc. ) poses a severe risk to clinical laboratory personnel and healthcare workers, resulting in hundreds of millions of hospital-acquired and laboratory-acquired infections annually. Novel technologies that can minimize human exposure through remote and automated handling of infectious biofluids will mitigate such risk. In this work, we present biofluid manipulators, which allow on-demand, remote and lossless manipulation of virtually any liquid droplet. Our manipulators are designed by integrating thermo-responsive soft actuators with superomniphobic surfaces. Utilizing our manipulators, we demonstrate on-demand, remote and lossless manipulation of biofluid droplets. We envision that our biofluid manipulators will not only reduce manual operations and minimize exposure to infectious agents, but also pave the way for developing inexpensive, simple and portable robotic systems, which can allow point-of-care operations, particularly in developing nations. 
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  2. Abstract

    Slippery surfaces (i.e., surfaces that display high liquid droplet mobility) are receiving significant attention due to their biofluidic applications. Non‐textured, all‐solid, slippery hydrophilic (SLIC) surfaces are an emerging class of rare and counter‐intuitive surfaces. In this work, the interactions of blood and bacteria with SLIC surfaces are investigated. The SLIC surfaces demonstrate significantly lower platelet and leukocyte adhesion (≈97.2% decrease in surface coverage), and correspondingly low platelet activation, as well as significantly lower bacterial adhesion (≈99.7% decrease in surface coverage of liveEscherichia Coliand ≈99.6% decrease in surface coverage of liveStaphylococcus Aureus) and proliferation compared to untreated silicon substrates, indicating their potential for practical biomedical applications. The study envisions that the SLIC surfaces will pave the path to improved biomedical devices with favorable blood and bacteria interactions.

     
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  5. Virtually all blood-contacting medical implants and devices initiate immunological events in the form of thrombosis and inflammation. Typically, patients receiving such implants are also given large doses of anticoagulants, which pose a high risk and a high cost to the patient. Thus, the design and development of surfaces with improved hemocompatibility and reduced dependence on anticoagulation treatments is paramount for the success of blood-contacting medical implants and devices. In the past decade, the hemocompatibility of super-repellent surfaces ( i.e. , surfaces that are extremely repellent to liquids) has been extensively investigated because such surfaces greatly reduce the blood–material contact area, which in turn reduces the area available for protein adsorption and blood cell or platelet adhesion, thereby offering the potential for improved hemocompatibility. In this review, we critically examine the progress made in characterizing the hemocompatibility of super-repellent surfaces, identify the unresolved challenges and highlight the opportunities for future research on developing medical implants and devices with super-repellent surfaces. 
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  6. Droplet nucleation and condensation are ubiquitous phenomena in nature and industry. Over the past century, research has shown dropwise condensation heat transfer on nonwetting surfaces to be an order of magnitude higher than filmwise condensation heat transfer on wetting substrates. However, the necessity for nonwetting to achieve dropwise condensation is unclear. This article reports stable dropwise condensation on a smooth, solid, hydrophilic surface (θ a = 38°) having low contact angle hysteresis (<3°). We show that the distribution of nano- to micro- to macroscale droplet sizes (about 100 nm to 1 mm) for coalescing droplets agrees well with the classical distribution on hydrophobic surfaces and elucidate that the wettability-governed dropwise-to-filmwise transition is mediated by the departing droplet Bond number. Our findings demonstrate that achieving stable dropwise condensation is not governed by surface intrinsic wettability, as assumed for the past eight decades, but rather, it is dictated by contact angle hysteresis. 
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  7. Abstract

    Omniphobic membranes are attractive for membrane distillation (MD) because of their superior wetting resistance. However, a design framework for MD membrane remains incomplete, due to the complexity of omniphobic membrane fabrication and the lack of fundamental relationship between wetting resistance and water vapor permeability. Here we present a particle-free approach that enables rapid fabrication of monolithic omniphobic membranes for MD desalination. Our monolithic omniphobic membranes display excellent wetting resistance and water purification performance in MD desalination of hypersaline feedwater containing surfactants. We identify that a trade-off exists between wetting resistance and water vapor permeability of our monolithic MD membranes. Utilizing membranes with tunable wetting resistance and permeability, we elucidate the underlying mechanism of such trade-off. We envision that our fabrication method as well as the mechanistic insight into the wetting resistance-vapor permeability trade-off will pave the way for smart design of MD membranes in diverse water purification applications.

     
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  8. When two liquid droplets coalesce on a superrepellent surface, the excess surface energy is partly converted to upward kinetic energy, and the coalesced droplet jumps away from the surface. However, the efficiency of this energy conversion is very low. In this work, we used a simple and passive technique consisting of superomniphobic surfaces with a macrotexture (comparable to the droplet size) to experimentally demonstrate coalescence-induced jumping with an energy conversion efficiency of 18.8% (i.e., about 570% increase compared to superomniphobic surfaces without a macrotexture). The higher energy conversion efficiency arises primarily from the effective redirection of in-plane velocity vectors to out-of-plane velocity vectors by the macrotexture. Using this higher energy conversion efficiency, we demonstrated coalescence-induced jumping of droplets with low surface tension (26.6 mN m −1 ) and very high viscosity (220 mPa·s). These results constitute the first-ever demonstration of coalescence-induced jumping of droplets at Ohnesorge number >1. 
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