Wetting phenomena on micro-grooved aluminum surfaces and modeling of the critical droplet size

A. D. Sommers, A. M. Jacobi

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The behavior of water droplets on aluminum surfaces with parallel grooves tens of microns in width and depth is considered, and a mechanistic model is developed for predicting the critical droplet size-droplets at incipient sliding due to gravity. The critical droplet size is nearly 50% smaller on micro-grooved surfaces than on the same surface without micro-grooves. The application of existing models fails to predict this behavior, and a new model based on empiricism is developed. The new model provides reasonable predictions of the critical droplet size for a given inclination angle, advancing contact angle, and maximum contact angle. When the grooves are aligned parallel to gravity, the maximum apparent contact angle does not occur at the advancing front but rather along the side of the droplet because of contact-line pinning. Droplets on these surfaces are elongated and possess a parallel-sided base contour shape. Novel data are provided for droplets in a Wenzel state, a Cassie-Baxter state, and combined state on micro-grooved surfaces, and the ability of the empirical model to handle these variations is explored. These findings may be important to a broad range of engineering applications.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)402-411
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of Colloid And Interface Science
Issue number2
StatePublished - Dec 15 2008


  • Aluminum
  • Condensate
  • Contact angle
  • Critical droplet
  • Hydrophobic
  • Micro-grooves

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Electronic, Optical and Magnetic Materials
  • Biomaterials
  • Surfaces, Coatings and Films
  • Colloid and Surface Chemistry


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