Life and death of a fakir droplet: Impalement transitions on superhydrophobic surfaces

Abstract.

We show that the equilibrium state of a water drop deposited on a superhydrophobic surface cannot be solely determined by its macroscopic contact angle but also depends on the drop size. Following the evolution of the interface of evaporating droplets, we demonstrate that the liquid can explore a succession of equilibrium conformations which are neither of the usual fakir nor Wenzel types. A comprehensive description of the transition between these wetting states is provided. To do so, we have taken advantage of microfabrication techniques and interference microscopy which allows for the “3D” imaging of the liquid interface. In addition, we propose a simple theoretical description of the interface geometry which goes beyond the standard two-state picture for superhydrophobicity. This model accounts correctly for all our experimental observations. Finally, guided by potential microfluidic applications we propose an efficient design strategy to build robust liquid repellant surfaces.

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Moulinet, S., Bartolo, D. Life and death of a fakir droplet: Impalement transitions on superhydrophobic surfaces. Eur. Phys. J. E 24, 251–260 (2007). https://doi.org/10.1140/epje/i2007-10235-y

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PACS.

  • 47.55.dr Drops and bubbles: Interactions with surfaces
  • 68.08.Bc Wetting