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Surface properties of cork: Is cork a hydrophobic material?

Abstract : Knowledge of the surface tension of cork and its hydrophobicity is of critical importance in many applications of this material at the interface with solid or liquid phases. The conventional technique based on contact angle measurement by sessile drop is not adapted to this naturally textured material and does not allow to accurately determine its hydrophobic character. A study based on capillary rise measurement is reported. A statistical distribution of the surface tension of cork is obtained, based on experiments performed on cork powder with various liquids and using a specific data processing to take into account the intrinsic heterogeneity of cork. This gives a surface tension of 22.6 (±1.2) mN·m−1, with a polar component at 5.2 (±0.5) mN·m−1 and a dispersive component at 17.4 (±1.6) mN·m−1. With a water contact angle of around 90°, cork shows an intermediate hydrophobic/hydrophilic behaviour. Locally, the specific surface texture and chemical composition can reinforce either the hydrophobic or the hydrophilic character. This critical analysis invites reflection on the notion of surface hydrophobicity as it can be determined macroscopically by a contact angle measurement and as defined at the molecular level by the free enthalpy of sorption of water.
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Submitted on : Tuesday, October 26, 2021 - 4:09:39 PM
Last modification on : Thursday, December 2, 2021 - 3:06:02 PM

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Julie Chanut, Yiqian Wang, Irene Dal Cin, Eric Ferret, Régis Gougeon, et al.. Surface properties of cork: Is cork a hydrophobic material?. Journal of Colloid and Interface Science, Elsevier, 2022, 608, pp.416-423. ⟨10.1016/j.jcis.2021.09.140⟩. ⟨hal-03404379⟩

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