Fundamental limits of jumping droplet heat transfer

Thomas Foulkes, Soumyadip Sett, Peter Sokalski, Junho Oh, Nenad Miljkovic

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Liquid-vapor phase-change cooling has a significant potential to facilitate the development of highly dense electronics by leveraging latent heat during the phase transition to remove heat from hotspots. A promising form of liquid-vapor phase-change cooling is coalescence-induced jumping droplet condensation, where droplet growth results in coalescence and gravity-independent jumping from the cold surface due to capillary-inertial energy conversion. Once the departed droplets reach the hotspot, heat is extracted via evaporation and through vapor return, subsequently spreading to the cold surface via condensation. Realizing the full potential of jumping droplet cooling requires a detailed understanding of the physics governing the process. Here, we examine the fundamental thermal and hydrodynamic limits of jumping droplet condensation. We demonstrate that jumping is mainly governed by the rate of droplet growth and fluid thermophysical properties. Timescale analysis demonstrates that the upper bound of water vapor jumping droplet condensation critical heat flux is ∼ 20 kW/cm2, significantly higher than that experimentally observed thus far due to surface structure limitations. Analysis of a wide range of available working fluids shows that liquid metals such as Li, Na, and Hg can obtain superior performance when compared to water.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number093701
JournalApplied Physics Letters
Issue number9
StatePublished - Mar 2 2020

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Physics and Astronomy (miscellaneous)


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