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Re-entrant Cavities Enhance Resilience to the Cassie-to-Wenzel State Transition on Superhydrophobic Surfaces during Electrowetting

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journal contribution
posted on 02.10.2018, 00:00 by Rishav Roy, Justin A. Weibel, Suresh V. Garimella
Electrowetting-based droplet actuation has applications in digital microfluidics. Mobility of droplets on surfaces can be enhanced using structured superhydrophobic surfaces that offer inherently low adhesion to droplets in the Cassie state. However, these surfaces must be designed to prevent transition to the Wenzel state (in which droplets are immobile) at high electrowetting actuation voltages. The electrowetting behavior of cylindrical microposts and mushroom-shaped re-entrant microstructures, both of which afford excellent superhydrophobicity, is investigated and compared. A surface-energy-based model is employed to estimate the energy barrier for the Cassie-to-Wenzel transition and thus the electrowetting voltage required to initiate this transition. The mushroom structures are predicted to be more resilient to transition (i.e., transition occurs at a voltage that is up to 1.5 times higher) than microposts. Both types of microstructured surfaces are fabricated and electrowetting experiments performed to demonstrate that mushroom structures indeed inhibit the Cassie-to-Wenzel transition at voltages that induce such transition on the cylindrical microposts.