Research ArticleFLUID DYNAMICS

Electrostatic cloaking of surface structure for dynamic wetting

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Science Advances  24 Feb 2017:
Vol. 3, no. 2, e1602202
DOI: 10.1126/sciadv.1602202

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Dynamic wetting problems are fundamental to understanding the interaction between liquids and solids. Even in a superficially simple experimental situation, such as a droplet spreading over a dry surface, the result may depend not only on the liquid properties but also strongly on the substrate-surface properties; even for macroscopically smooth surfaces, the microscopic geometrical roughness can be important. In addition, because surfaces may often be naturally charged or electric fields are used to manipulate fluids, electric effects are crucial components that influence wetting phenomena. We investigate the interplay between electric forces and surface structures in dynamic wetting. Although surface microstructures can significantly hinder spreading, we find that electrostatics can “cloak” the microstructures, that is, deactivate the hindering. We identify the physics in terms of reduction in contact-line friction, which makes the dynamic wetting inertial force dominant and insensitive to the substrate properties.

  • Dynamic wetting
  • electrostatics
  • cloaking
  • surface microstructure

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