Magnetic-Sensitive Nanoparticle Self-Assembled Superhydrophobic Biopolymer-Coated Slow-Release Fertilizer: Fabrication, Enhanced Performance, and Mechanism


Although commercialized slow-release fertilizers coated with petrochemical polymers have revolutionarily promoted agricultural production, more research should be devoted to developing superhydrophobic biopolymer coatings with superb slow-release ability from sustainable and ecofriendly biomaterials. To inform the development of the superhydrophobic biopolymer-coated slow-release fertilizers (SBSF), the slow-release mechanism of SBSF needs to be clarified. Here, the SBSF with superior slow-release performance, water tolerance, and good feasibility for large-scale production was self-assembly fabricated using a simple, solvent-free process. The superhydrophobic surfaces of SBSF with uniformly dispersed Fe3O4 superhydrophobic magnetic-sensitive nanoparticles (SMNs) were self-assembly constructed with the spontaneous migration of Fe3O4 SMNs toward the outermost surface of the liquid coating materials (i.e., pig fat based polyol and polymethylene polyphenylene isocyanate in a mass ratio 1.2:1) in a magnetic field during the reaction-curing process. The results revealed that SBSF showed longer slow-release longevity (more than 100 days) than those of unmodified biopolymer-coated slow-release fertilizers and excellent durable properties under various external environment conditions. The governing slow-release mechanism of SBSF was clarified by directly observing the atmosphere cushion on the superhydrophobic biopolymer coating using the synchrotron radiation-based X-ray phase-contrast imaging technique. Liquid water only contacts the top of the bulges of the solid surface (10.9%), and air pockets are trapped underneath the liquid (89.1%). The atmosphere cushion allows the slow diffusion of water vapor into the internal urea core of SBSF, which can decrease the nutrient release and enhance the slow-release ability. This self-assembly synthesis of SBSF through the magnetic interaction provides a strategy to fabricate not only ecofriendly biobased slow-release fertilizers but also other superhydrophobic materials for various applications

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This paper was published in FigShare.

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