Coalescence-Induced Droplet Jumping for Electro-Thermal Sensing

Kaushik Chettiar, Dalia Ghaddar, Patrick Birbarah, Zhaoer Li, Moonkyung Kim, Nenad Miljkovic

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Jumping droplet condensation, whereby microdroplets (ca. 1-100 μm) coalescing on suitably designed superhydrophobic surfaces jump away from the surface, has recently been shown to have a 10× heat transfer enhancement compared to filmwise condensing surfaces. However, accurate measurements of the condensation heat flux remain a challenge due to the need for low supersaturations (<1.1) to avoid flooding. The low corresponding heat fluxes (<5 W/cm2) can result in temperature noise that exceeds the resolution of the measurement devices. Furthermore, difficulties in electro-thermal measurements such as droplet and surface electrostatic charge arise in applications where direct access to the condensing surface, such as in isolated chambers and small integrated devices, is not possible. Here, we present an optical technique that can determine the experimental electro-thermal parameters of the jumping droplet condensation process with high fidelity through the analysis of jumping droplet trajectories. To measure the heat flux, we observed the experimental trajectories of condensate droplets on superhydrophobic nanostructures and simultaneously matched them in space and time with simulated trajectories using the droplet dynamic equations of motion. Two independent approaches yielded mean heat fluxes of approximately 0.13 W/cm2 with standard deviations ranging from 0.047 to 0.095 W/cm2, a 79% reduction in error when compared with classical energy balance-based heat flux measurements. In addition, we analyzed the trajectories of electrostatically interacting droplets during flight and fitted the simulated and experimental results to achieve spatial and temporal agreement. The effect of image charges on a jumping droplet as it approaches the surface was analyzed, and the observed acceleration has been numerically quantified. Our work presents a sensing methodology of electro-thermal parameters governing jumping droplet condensation.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)18909-18922
Number of pages14
Issue number51
StatePublished - Dec 26 2023

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Condensed Matter Physics
  • Spectroscopy
  • General Materials Science
  • Surfaces and Interfaces
  • Electrochemistry


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