The influence of molecular-scale roughness on the surface spreading of an aqueous nanodrop

CD Daub and JH Wang and S Kudesia and D Bratko and A Luzar, FARADAY DISCUSSIONS, 146, 67-77 (2010).

DOI: 10.1039/b927061m

We examine the effect of nanoscale roughness on spreading and surface mobility of water nanodroplets. Using molecular dynamics, we consider model surfaces with sub-nanoscale asperities at varied surface coverage and with different distribution patterns. We test materials that are hydrophobic, and those that are hydrophilic in the absence of surface corrugations. Interestingly, on both types of surfaces, the introduction of surface asperities gives rise to a sharp increase in the apparent contact angle. The Cassie-Baxter equation is obeyed approximately on hydrophobic substrates, however, the increase in the contact angle on a hydrophilic surface differs qualitatively from the behavior on macroscopically rough surfaces described by the Wenzel equation. On the hydrophobic substrate, the superhydrophobic state with the maximal contact angle of 180 degrees is reached when the asperity coverage falls below 25%, suggesting that superhydrophobicity can also be achieved by the nanoscale roughness of a macroscopically smooth material. We further examine the effect of surface roughness on droplet mobility on the substrate. The apparent diffusion constant shows a dramatic slow down of the nanodroplet translation even for asperity coverage in the range of 1% for a hydrophilic surface, while droplets on corrugated hydrophobic surfaces retain the ability to flow around the asperities. In contrast, for smooth surfaces we find that the drop mobility on the hydrophilic surface exceeds that on the hydrophobic one.

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