A surface embossing technique to create micro-grooves on an aluminum fin stock for drainage enhancement

Liping Liu, Anthony M. Jacobi, Dmitri Chvedov

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Recent advances using a surface embossing technique allow us to inexpensively impart micro-scale surface features on heat exchanger construction material, which we exploit to reduce condensate retention. The retention of condensate is important to the performance of heat exchangers in a broad range of air-cooling and dehumidification applications. We report a study of wetting behavior and drainage performance on a series of embossed surfaces with different micro-groove dimensions. Static contact angles, critical sliding angles, droplet aspect ratios, etc, are reported with detailed surface topographical information. Our results show that unless the spacing between grooves is very large (>100 νm), the parallel-grooved surface feature normally increases the apparent contact angle of a droplet on the surface. The micro-groove structure causes anisotropic wetting behavior of the droplets, and apparent contact angles measured by viewing along with the micro-grooves ( ) were found to be larger than those measured from the other direction (θ) (by viewing perpendicular to the grooves). A consistent reduction of a critical sliding angle was observed on surfaces after embossing (the micro-grooves are aligned to be parallel with gravity). This may be due to contact line discontinuities and contact-line pinning induced by a groove structure of the surface. Water droplets exhibit an elongated shape along the micro-grooves, which is in contrast to the nearly circular base contour observed on an isotropic surface. Smaller groove spacing, larger depth and steeper sidewalls are observed to be favorable for drainage enhancement and recommended as design guidelines in the future.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number035026
JournalJournal of Micromechanics and Microengineering
Issue number3
StatePublished - 2009

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Electronic, Optical and Magnetic Materials
  • Mechanics of Materials
  • Mechanical Engineering
  • Electrical and Electronic Engineering


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