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Delayed Frost Growth on Jumping-Drop Superhydrophobic Surfaces

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posted on 26.02.2013 by Jonathan B. Boreyko, C. Patrick Collier
Self-propelled jumping drops are continuously removed from a condensing superhydrophobic surface to enable a micrometric steady-state drop size. Here, we report that subcooled condensate on a chilled superhydrophobic surface are able to repeatedly jump off the surface before heterogeneous ice nucleation occurs. Frost still forms on the superhydrophobic surface due to ice nucleation at neighboring edge defects, which eventually spreads over the entire surface via an interdrop frost wave. The growth of this interdrop frost front is shown to be up to 3 times slower on the superhydrophobic surface compared to a control hydrophobic surface, due to the jumping-drop effect dynamically minimizing the average drop size and surface coverage of the condensate. A simple scaling model is developed to relate the success and speed of interdrop ice bridging to the drop size distribution. While other reports of condensation frosting on superhydrophobic surfaces have focused exclusively on liquid–solid ice nucleation for isolated drops, these findings reveal that the growth of frost is an interdrop phenomenon that is strongly coupled to the wettability and drop size distribution of the surface. A jumping-drop superhydrophobic condenser minimized frost formation relative to a conventional dropwise condenser in two respects: preventing heterogeneous ice nucleation by continuously removing subcooled condensate, and delaying frost growth by limiting the success of interdrop ice bridge formation.