Microscale Confinement and Wetting Contrast Enable Enhanced and Tunable Condensation

Xiao Yan, Feipeng Chen, Chongyan Zhao, Xiong Wang, Longnan Li, Siavash Khodakarami, Kazi Fazle Rabbi, Jiaqi Li, Muhammad Jahidul Hoque, Feng Chen, Jie Feng, Nenad Miljkovic

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Dropwise condensation represents the upper limit of thermal transport efficiency for liquid-to-vapor phase transition. A century of research has focused on promoting dropwise condensation by attempting to overcome limitations associated with thermal resistance and poor surface-modifier durability. Here, we show that condensation in a microscale gap formed by surfaces having a wetting contrast can overcome these limitations. Spontaneous out-of-plane condensate transfer between the contrasting parallel surfaces decouples the nanoscale nucleation behavior, droplet growth dynamics, and shedding processes to enable minimization of thermal resistance and elimination of surface modification. Experiments on pure steam combined with theoretical analysis and numerical simulation confirm the breaking of intrinsic limits to classical condensation and demonstrate a gap-dependent heat-transfer coefficient with up to 240% enhancement compared to dropwise condensation. Our study presents a promising mechanism and technology for compact energy and water applications where high, tunable, gravity-independent, and durable phase-change heat transfer is required.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)9510-9522
Number of pages13
JournalACS Nano
Issue number6
StatePublished - Jun 28 2022


  • condensation
  • droplet transfer
  • microconfinement
  • nanoengineering
  • thermal management
  • wettability contrast

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Engineering
  • General Materials Science
  • General Physics and Astronomy


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