PhD degree awarded to Antonio García Girón

On 28th February 2020, our Early Stage Researcher Antonio García Girón, from the Laser4Fun project, successfully defended his thesis for the degree of Doctor of Philosophy.

The work titled “Laser-based surface functionalisation: advances in durability and 3D processing” was carried out in the University of Birmingham under the supervision of Professor Stefan Dimov, studying some limitations of the laser surface functionalisation. The examination board was composed by Dr. C. Kong, Dr. S. Bigot and Dr. N. Gao, and the viva took place at the University of Birmingham in the morning on 28th February 2020.

Summary of Antonio’s research
Surface functionalization is gaining interests for industry and research due to the new attractive properties that can be “imprinted” on metal components, e.g. bacteria repellence or hydrophobicity among others. Considering the available alternative technologies to achieve such functional responses, direct laser writing is gaining a popularity due to its cost-effectiveness, selectivity and relatively short processing time. It allows surface properties to be modified or tuned by patterning and texturing at micron or submicron scales. However, laser surface functionalization has some limitations, too, such as the durability of the produced topographies and hence of their functionality, and also capabilities to apply it on free-form surfaces. In this context, the focus of the research presented in this thesis is on addressing these open issues. In particular, a combination of plasma surface alloying and laser patterning is proposed in order to increase hardness of produced functional surfaces, and thus to increase their wear resistance and durability. Also, a method to study the effects of the process disturbances in patterning 3D surfaces is proposed, especially on resulting topographies and their functional responses. All together, the research advances the knowledge in laser surface patterning and addresses key constraints for the broader use of this technology by industry.

Lotus-leaf inspired surfaces: hydrophobicity evolution of replicas due to mechanical cleaning and mould wear

Results of the work in the Laser4Fun project has been published as:

Jean-Michel Romano, Antonio Garcia-Giron, Pavel Penchev, Mert Gulcur, Ben R. Whiteside, Stefan S. Dimov. (2020) Lotus-leaf inspired surfaces: hydrophobicity evolution of replicas due to mechanical cleaning and mould wear. Journal of Micro and Nano Manufacturing, 8(1): 010913.


Inspired from the low wetting properties of Lotus leaves, the fabrication of dual micro/nanoscale topographies is of interest to many applications. In this research, superhydrophobic surfaces are fabricated by a process chain combining ultrashort pulsed laser texturing of steel inserts and injection molding to produce textured polypropylene (PP) parts. This manufacturing route is very promising and could be economically viable for mass production of polymeric parts with superhydrophobic properties. However, surface damages, such as wear and abrasion phenomena, can be detrimental to the attractive wetting properties of replicated textured surfaces. Therefore, the final product lifespan is investigated using mechanical cleaning of textured PP surfaces with multipurpose cloths following the ASTM D3450 standard. Second, the surface damage of replication masters after 350 injection molding cycles with glass-fiber-reinforced PP, especially to intensify mold wear, was investigated. In both cases, the degradation of the dualscale surface textures had a clear impact on surface topography of the replicas and thus on their wetting properties, too.