Frenkel's method and the dynamic wetting of heterogeneous planar surfaces

Glen McHale, Michael Newton

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

48 Citations (Scopus)


The relationship between the edge velocity, nu(E), and the dynamic contact angle, theta, for the spreading of a small spherical cap type droplet on chemically and geometrically heterogeneous surfaces is examined using Frenkel's method. In this method, the change in surface free energy is equated to the viscous dissipation caused by Poiseuille flow inside the spherical cap. To describe dynamic wetting of a surface that is heterogeneous due to small variations in the local surface geometry of the solid, we introduce a simple Wenzel type correction for the ratio of the actual to geometric surface areas, r. The rate of change of surface free energy is then (2pir(0))gamma(LV)(cos theta - rI)nu(E) where r(0) is the drop base radius, I = (gamma(SV) - gamma(SL))/gamma(LV) and the y(ij)'s are the interfacial tensions. For partial wetting, I = cos theta(e) where theta(e) is the equilibrium contact angle and when the viscous dissipation vanishes, Wenzel's relationship linking the equilibrium contact angle on a rough surface to that on a smooth surface is obtained. Using dimensional arguments, we suggest that for a surface with weak geometric heterogeneity, the viscous dissipation is of the form ketar(0)nu(E)(2)/tan(theta/2) where eta is the viscosity and k is a numerical factor. Balancing the rate of change of the surface free energy with the viscous dissipation gives the edge speed proportional to tan(theta/2)(rcos theta(e) - cos theta), which for small angles and smooth surfaces reduces to the Tanner-de Gennes Law nu(E) proportional to theta(theta(2) - theta(e)(2)). The influence of incomplete penetration of the fluid into the surface structure is also examined. An analogous relationship based on a smooth, but chemically heterogeneous surface is derived. This is shown to give Cassie's equation for the equilibrium contact angle. For complete wetting, Frenkel's method predicts Tanner's law theta similar to t^(-3/10) when the surface is smooth and a modified Tanner's law tending towards theta similar to t^(-3/4) when the surface has a weak geometric heterogeneity.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)193-201
JournalColloids and Surfaces A: Physicochemical and Engineering Aspects
Issue number1-3
Publication statusPublished - 9 Jul 2002


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