Journal of Materials Science

, Volume 55, Issue 7, pp 2846–2859 | Cite as

Development of superhydrophobic, self-cleaning, and flame-resistant DLC/TiO2 melamine sponge for application in oil–water separation

  • Roberta G. ToroEmail author
  • Pietro Calandra
  • Fulvio Federici
  • Tilde de Caro
  • Alessio Mezzi
  • Barbara Cortese
  • Anna Lucia Pellegrino
  • Graziella Malandrino
  • Daniela Caschera
Composites & nanocomposites


Increasing awareness of environmental concerns has strongly pushed the scientific community towards the search for new solutions for efficient removal of oils and organic solvents from water. Here, we report the preparation of multifunctional TiO2-coated melamine-formaldehyde (MF) sponges as absorbent material for oils and organic solvents in water. TiO2-coated MF sponges were fabricated through an environmentally friendly approach, consisting in a simple immersion of the sponge into an oleic acid-capped TiO2 nanoparticles dispersion. The adhesion of TiOle coating to the sponge was then improved by the deposition of a low surface energy diamond-like carbon (DLC) thin layer. Our results highlighted that the modified MF sponges possess superhydrophobic and oleophilic behaviour, inertness to corrosive environment, good durability and reusability. Furthermore, the superhydrophobic DLC/TiO2@sponges showed (1) novel self-cleaning properties towards an absorbed commercial organic dye (IR-270BKA, chosen as representative) under visible light irradiation and (2) enhanced flame-retardant behaviour respect to the pristine MF sponge. These findings point out an important added value of DLC/TiOle@sponges making them promising candidates for wastewater treatments.



The authors acknowledge Patrizia Cafarelli for BET measurements and Dr Bruno Brunetti for TG measurements. The activities have been partially performed in the framework of the Joint Bilateral Agreement CNR/NRC (Egypt), Biennial Programme 2018–2019, for the Project “Improvement of mechanical and harrier properties of biopolymer nano-composites for packaging applications”.

Compliance with ethical standards

Conflict of interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.

Supplementary material

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© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC, part of Springer Nature 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.CNR-ISMN, Area della Ricerca Roma 1Monterotondo Scalo, RomeItaly
  2. 2.Department of Physics, CNR-Nanotec, Istituto di NanotecnologiaUniversity SapienzaRomeItaly
  3. 3.Dipartimento di Scienze ChimicheUniversità di Catania and INSTM UdR di CataniaCataniaItaly

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