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Author ORCID Identifier


Campus-Only Access for Five (5) Years

Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Degree Program

Civil Engineering

Year Degree Awarded


Month Degree Awarded


First Advisor

Guoping Zhang

Subject Categories

Ceramic Materials | Civil Engineering | Geotechnical Engineering | Nanoscience and Nanotechnology | Polymer and Organic Materials


Superhydrophobic materials have drawn great attention of both academia and industry in recent decades. A thorough understanding of the mechanisms for the formation of SH surfaces is crucial for the exploration and production of SH materials. To achieve SH, both the chemical surface energy and physical surface morphology need to be modified. Past and current research has mostly focused on the 2D SH surfaces or surface coatings. This dissertation research systematically investigates the synthesis and properties of 3D voluminous SH materials. In efforts to better characterize the surface properties and to fundamentally understand the laws of synthesizing SH materials, an old processing method that was initially used to produce inorganic ceramic and cementitious materials was proposed and validated in the first phase of this research by introducing metakaolin into the reactions as the parent material. A sol-gel technique combining the alkaline activation and silicone hydrolysis is capable of simultaneously breaking down the structure of metakaolin and branches of silicone monomers so that they can be assembled together as a new hybrid voluminous material consisting of inorganic aluminosilicate backbone and organic silicones as the functional groups. Sufficient data obtained from the past and existing research have suggested that the corrosion and thermal resistance of SH surfaces are not strong enough to enable further development of practical applications. Therefore, the second phase of this research investigated the behavior of the synthesized SH material under various harsh environmental conditions. Together with the thermal and chemical stability investigations, it was found that the synthesized SH material has the ability to withstand long-time exposure to sunlight. Moreover, the breakthrough pressure as well as the durability of the voluminous SH material was among the first being investigated in this study. In the final phase of this study, the potential application of the SH material as a water barrier and soil amendment to adjust the flow behavior of soils was further investigated using the dry mixture of sand and clay with the SH powdery sample. The findings here enable a better understanding of the water repellency modification of the soil upon the addition of the SH material.