Endoscopic Visualization of Contact Line Dynamics during Pool Boiling on Capillary-Activated Copper Microchannels

Jiaqi Li, Gaohua Zhu, Daniel Kang, Wuchen Fu, Yongyi Zhao, Nenad Miljkovic

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Microchannel surfaces are common to microfluidics, biofluidics, thermal management, and energy applications. Due to processing limitations for the majority of metallic materials, the majority of hyperfine microchannels used in microfluidics and thermo-fluids are fabricated on non-metallic substrates, for example, silicon and polydimethylsiloxane. Here, a technique to fabricate ultrasmall microchannels on arbitrary metallic materials is developed using photolithography in combination with electrochemical deposition. The technique is used to prepare copper microchannels and to investigate the pool boiling heat transfer performance with a focus on the three-phase contact line dynamics. The hydrodynamics of nucleating bubbles during boiling are observed in situ using in-liquid endoscopy. The results show that the variation of critical heat flux enhancement has a linear relationship with the contact line increase ratio. The scalable microchannel surfaces exhibit superior heat transfer performance with a maximum heat transfer coefficient) enhancement of 930% with ultra-low wall superheat of 5 °C. This work not only develops a scalable manufacturing method to develop ultra-small microchannels on metallic materials, it outlines design guidelines for structure optimization of pool boiling heat transfer for temperature sensitive applications, such as electronics thermal management.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number2006249
JournalAdvanced Functional Materials
Issue number4
StatePublished - Jan 22 2021


  • boiling heat transfer
  • critical heat flux
  • electrochemical deposition
  • microchannel
  • three-phase contact line

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Chemistry(all)
  • Materials Science(all)
  • Condensed Matter Physics


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