How Superhydrophobic Grooves Drive Single-Droplet Jumping

Fuqiang Chu, Xiao Yan, Nenad Miljkovic

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Rapid shedding of microdroplets enhances the performance of self-cleaning, anti-icing, water-harvesting, and condensation heat-transfer surfaces. Coalescence-induced droplet jumping represents one of the most efficient microdroplet shedding approaches and is fundamentally limited by weak fluid-substrate dynamics, resulting in a departure velocity smaller than 0.3u, where u is the capillary-inertia-scaled droplet velocity. Laplace pressure-driven single-droplet jumping from rationally designed superhydrophobic grooves has been shown to break conventional capillary-inertia energy transfer paradigms by squeezing and launching single droplets independent of coalescence. However, this interesting droplet shedding mechanism remains poorly understood. Here, we investigate single-droplet jumping from superhydrophobic grooves by examining its dependence upon surface and droplet configurations. Using a volume of fluid (VOF) simulation framework benchmarked with optical visualizations, we verify the Laplace pressure contrast established within the groove-confined droplet that governs single-droplet jumping. An optimal departure velocity of 1.13u is achieved, well beyond what is currently available using condensation on homogeneous or hierarchical superhydrophobic structures. We further develop a jumping/non-jumping regime map in terms of surface wettability and initial droplet volume and demonstrate directional jumping under asymmetric confinement. Our work reveals key fluid-structure interactions required for the tuning of droplet jumping dynamics and guides the design of interfaces and materials for enhanced microdroplet shedding for a plethora of applications.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)4452-4460
Number of pages9
Issue number14
StatePublished - Apr 12 2022

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Materials Science(all)
  • Condensed Matter Physics
  • Surfaces and Interfaces
  • Spectroscopy
  • Electrochemistry


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