Exploring the Owens–Wendt Method for Liquid-Repellency in Laser-Textured Stainless Steel
Exploring the Owens–Wendt Method for Liquid-Repellency in Laser-Textured Stainless Steel

Exploring the Owens–Wendt Method for Liquid-Repellency in Laser-Textured Stainless Steel

Recent advancements in material science have introduced a novel approach to enhancing liquid-repellency in AISI 304 stainless steel surfaces using femtosecond laser texturing. This method explores the combined use of spontaneous hydrophilization and treatments with stearic acid and octyltrimethoxysilane to achieve superior liquid-repellent properties. The Owens–Wendt method is instrumental in this context, offering a comparative analysis of UV stability and efficacy of these treatments.

Principle of The Technology

The technology primarily revolves around modifying the surface topography of stainless steel. The femtosecond laser creates micro- and nano-scale textures (like Laser-Induced Periodic Surface Structures – LIPSS) on the steel surface. This texturing method, inspired by biomimetics, mimics the water-repellent surfaces of natural formations like lotus leaves which is commonly called “Lotus Effect” or “Hydrophobic Effect”. The microscopic grooves and protrusions create a rough microcrystalline structure, which is key to the liquid-repellent properties.

Figure Reference: Kepuchina.cn

“Lotus Effect”
The microscopic structure of the lotus leaf surface plays a crucial role in its unique self-cleaning properties. Under the microscope, the lotus leaf surface is covered with papillae that are about 5-9 micrometers high, spaced approximately 12 micrometers apart. Additionally, each of these papillae is topped with numerous wax-like protrusions, each about 200 nanometers in diameter. These protrusions, due to their repellent surface, act like a protective layer over the entire leaf, effectively repelling any water droplets. When water drops onto the lotus leaf, these densely packed, varying-sized “pillars” repel the water, preventing it from penetrating into the gaps between the papillae, thus keeping the leaf dry. Similarly, when dust and other pollutants fall on the leaf, they are also blocked by these wax-like protrusions. As a result, during rain, the dust is immediately washed away, leaving the leaf spotlessly clean. The lotus leaf maintains its cleanliness and freshness through this unique leaf surface structure. This self-cleaning phenomenon is known as the “Lotus Effect” or “Hydrophobic Effect.” Scientists have taken great interest in the lotus leaf effect, and by mimicking its hydrophobic structure, a variety of superhydrophobic materials have been created and applied in many aspects of daily life.

Impact and Advantages

The technology showcases several advantages:

  • Enhanced Liquid-Repellence: By altering surface topography, the method significantly increases the liquid-repellence of stainless steel.
  • UV Stability: Using the Owens–Wendt parameters, the treated surfaces demonstrate improved stability under UV irradiation, an essential factor for outdoor applications.
  • Versatility: It offers flexibility in choosing the treatment process – either spontaneous hydrophobization or chemical treatments with eco-friendly options like stearic acid or octyltrimethoxysilane.
  • Cost-Effectiveness: Compared to traditional methods like electrochemical deposition or chemical vapor deposition, laser texturing is a more scalable and potentially less expensive option.


This technology has broad applications in fields where water-repellence and UV resistance are crucial, including:

  • Aerospace and Automotive: For parts requiring resistance to liquids and environmental factors.
  • Architectural Applications: In building materials that benefit from self-cleaning and water-repellent properties.
  • Medical Devices: Where sterilization and cleanliness are paramount, the technology can offer surfaces that resist liquid adherence and contamination.

The Owens–Wendt method for analyzing UV stability in laser-textured stainless-steel surfaces represents a significant leap in material science. It not only provides an effective way to enhance the liquid-repellency of surfaces but also introduces a method to analyze and compare the effectiveness and stability of different surface treatments. As a result, this technology holds great promise for a wide range of industrial applications, bringing both efficiency and innovation to material processing and usage.