Building Thin Films with
Functionality, Universality & Novelty
Our research group focus on novel synthesis methods and vacuum processes to create various functional thin film materials that tackle many critical challenges for the world.
The formation of inorganic foulants can significantly impair the efficiency of desalination processes. For thermal desalination technologies such as multistage flash (MSF), scale formation often causes up to 95% decrease of heat transfer efficiency and clogging inside the heating exchanger tubes. Consequently, the desalination plants have to be shut down regularly for maintenance, even though additives have been applied to control the precipitation rate of scale minerals. Strategies to effectively reduce scaling on desalination equipment surfaces are therefore highly desired for energy-efficient uninterrupted desalination operations.
In our recent work, we developed anti-scaling surfaces using initiated chemical vapor deposited (iCVD) covalently crosslinked organic networks. These coatings are ultrathin so as to maintain the overall heat transfer coefficient. The low surface energy of the iCVD polymer films leads to high energy barrier for CaCO3 heterogeneous nucleation, which is key to slowing down the scaling kinetics. These iCVD coatings exhibit excellent stability and passivation ability, enabling effective, prolonged inhibition of the surface electrochemical oxidation of Cu/Ni in hot aqueous environment and the corrosion-induced CaCO3 nucleation. As a result, the amount of CaCO3 scale was reduced by up to 14 times at 110 ℃. The outstanding performance indicates that these iCVD thin films are very promising for scaling control in thermal desalination processes and petroleum industry as well.