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Beyond the Lotus Effect: Roughness Influences on Wetting over a Wide Surface-Energy Range

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posted on 20.05.2008, 00:00 by Doris M. Spori, Tanja Drobek, Stefan Zürcher, Mirjam Ochsner, Christoph Sprecher, Andreas Mühlebach, Nicholas D. Spencer
To enhance our understanding of liquids in contact with rough surfaces, a systematic study has been carried out in which water contact angle measurements were performed on a wide variety of rough surfaces with precisely controlled surface chemistry. Surface morphologies consisted of sandblasted glass slides as well as replicas of acid-etched, sandblasted titanium, lotus leaves, and photolithographically manufactured golf-tee shaped micropillars (GTMs). The GTMs display an extraordinarily stable, Cassie-type hydrophobicity, even in the presence of hydrophilic surface chemistry. Due to pinning effects, contact angles on hydrophilic rough surfaces are shifted to more hydrophobic values, unless roughness or surface energy are such that capillary forces become significant, leading to complete wetting. The observed hydrophobicity is thus not consistent with the well-known Wenzel equation. We have shown that the pinning strength of a surface is independent of the surface chemistry, provided that neither capillary forces nor air enclosure are involved. In addition, pinning strength can be described by the axis intercept of the cosine−cosine plot of contact angles for rough versus flat surfaces with the same surface chemistries.