Snap evaporation of droplets on smooth topographies

Gary Wells, Élfego Ruiz Gutiérrez, Youen Le Lirzin, Anthony Nourry, Bethany Orme, Marc Pradas, Rodrigo Ledesma Aguilar

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

27 Citations (Scopus)
16 Downloads (Pure)


Droplet evaporation on solid surfaces is important in many applications including printing, micro-patterning and cooling. While seemingly simple, the configuration of evaporating droplets on solids is difficult to predict and control. This is because evaporation typically proceeds as a "stick-slip" sequence combination of pinning and de-pinning events dominated by static friction, or "pinning", caused by microscopic surface roughness. Here we show how smooth, pinning-free, solid surfaces of non-planar topography promote a different process called snap evaporation. During snap evaporation a droplet follows a reproducible sequence of configurations, consisting of a quasi-static phase-change controlled by mass diffusion interrupted by out-of-equilibrium snaps. Snaps are triggered by bifurcations of the equilibrium droplet shape mediated by the underlying non-planar solid. Because the evolution of droplets during snap evaporation is controlled by a smooth topography, and not by surface roughness, our ideas can inspire programmable surfaces that manage liquids in heat- and mass-transfer applications.
Original languageEnglish
Article number1380
JournalNature Communications
Publication statusPublished - 11 Apr 2018


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