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Friction of Droplets Sliding on Microstructured Superhydrophobic Surfaces

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journal contribution
posted on 02.11.2017 by Shasha Qiao, Shen Li, Qunyang Li, Bo Li, Kesong Liu, Xi-Qiao Feng
Liquid transport is a fundamental process relevant to a wide range of applications, for example, heat transfer, anti-icing, self-cleaning, drag reduction, and microfluidic systems. For these applications, a deeper understanding of the sliding behavior of water droplets on solid surfaces is of particular importance. In this study, the frictional behavior of water droplets sliding on superhydrophobic surfaces decorated with micropillar arrays was studied using a nanotribometer. Our experiments show that surfaces with a higher solid area fraction generally exhibited larger friction, although friction might drop when the solid area fraction was close to unity. More interestingly, we found that the sliding friction of droplets was enhanced when the dimension of the microstructures increased, showing a distinct size effect. The nonmonotonic dependence of friction force on solid area fraction and the apparent size effect can be qualitatively explained by the evolution of two governing factors, that is, the true length of the contact line and the coordination degree of the depinning events. The mechanisms are expected to be generally applicable for other liquid transport processes involving the dynamic motion of a three-phase contact line, which may provide a new means of tuning liquid-transfer behavior through surface microstructures.