The Laboratory of Surface Engineering and Fluid Interfaces (SEFI Lab) brings about research and innovation for new technologies towards clean water and energy-efficient processes, two goals identified by UN for sustainable development.
In particular, activities focus on understanding interfacial transport phenomena, for the design of innovative smart interfaces. SEFI Lab is characterized by an interdisciplinary approach, at the interface between thermofluidics, material science and surface micro- and nano-engineering.
Smart interfaces with tailored wetting properties to control liquid behavior at interfaces, e.g. on solid surfaces, have a tremendous potential in a variety of engineering and energy related applications. Non-wetting surfaces superhydrophobic surfaces are developed at SEFI Lab for
their extreme potential against ice nucleation and accretion on solid substrates, a severe issue in aeronautics, for structures in cold climates and for low-temperature heat exchangers, and for efficient condensation processes. To control phase change processes, materials and surfaces are rationally designed and fabricated, with complex patterning down to the micro- and nanoscale.
Smart interfaces with controlled wetting and nano-structuring play a major role in the development of efficient processes for clean water, including both drinking water and polluted sea water cleaning, e.g. after large oil spill. Within the framework of green material fabrication, cellulose nanofibrils from natural resources were used to fabricate extremely porous light-weight materials, with selective liquid sorption, due to tailored hydrophobic-oleophilic interfacial wetting properties.