Enhanced Jumping-Droplet Departure

Moon Kyung Kim, Hyeongyun Cha, Patrick Birbarah, Shreyas Chavan, Chen Zhong, Yuehan Xu, Nenad Miljkovic

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Water vapor condensation on superhydrophobic surfaces has received much attention in recent years because of its ability to shed water droplets at length scales 3 decades smaller than the capillary length (∼1 mm) via coalescence-induced droplet jumping. Jumping-droplet condensation has been demonstrated to enhance heat transfer, anti-icing, and self-cleaning efficiency and is governed by the theoretical inertial-capillary scaled jumping speed (U). When two droplets coalesce, the experimentally measured jumping speed (Uexp) is fundamentally limited by the internal fluid dynamics during the coalescence process (Uexp < 0.23U). Here, we theoretically and experimentally demonstrate multidroplet (>2) coalescence as an avenue to break the two-droplet speed limit. Using side-view and top-view high-speed imaging to study more than 1000 jumping events on a copper oxide nanostructured superhydrophobic surface, we verify that droplet jumping occurs as a result of three fundamentally different mechanisms: (1) coalescence between two droplets, (2) coalescence among more than two droplets (multidroplet), and (3) coalescence between one or more droplets on the surface and a returning droplet that has already departed (multihop). We measured droplet-jumping speeds for a wide range of droplet radii (5-50 μm) and demonstrated that while the two-droplet capillary-to-inertial energy conversion mechanism is not identical to that of multidroplet jumping, speeds above the theoretical two-droplet limit (>0.23U) can be achieved. However, we discovered that multihop coalescence resulted in drastically reduced jumping speeds (蠐0.23U) due to adverse momentum contributions from returning droplets. To quantify the impact of enhanced jumping speed on heat-transfer performance, we developed a condensation critical heat flux model to show that modest jumping speed enhancements of 50% using multidroplet jumping can enhance performance by up to 40%. Our results provide a starting point for the design of enhanced-performance jumping-droplet surfaces for industrial applications.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)13452-13466
Number of pages15
Issue number49
StatePublished - Nov 16 2015

ASJC Scopus subject areas

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


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