Using Amphiphilic Nanostructures to Enable Long-Range Ensemble Coalescence and Surface Rejuvenation in Dropwise Condensation
GEORGIA INST OF TECH ATLANTA SCHOOL OF MATERIALS SCIENCE AND ENGINEERING
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Controlling coalescence events in a heterogeneous ensemble of condensing droplets on a surface is an outstanding fundamental challenge in surface and interfacial sciences, with a broad practical importance in applications ranging from thermal management of high-performance electronic devices to moisture management in high-humidity environments. Nature-inspired superhydrophobic surfaces have been actively explored to enhance heat and mass transfer rates by achieving favorable dynamics during dropwise condensation however, the effectiveness of such chemically homogeneous surfaces has been limited because condensing droplets tend to form as pinned Wenzel drops rather than mobile Cassie ones. Here, we introduce an amphiphilic nanostructured surface, consisting of a hydrophilic base with hydrophobic tips, which promotes the periodic regeneration of nucleation sites for small droplets, thus rendering the surface self-rejuvenating. This unique amphiphilic nanointerface generates an arrangement of condensed Wenzel droplets that are fluidically linked by a wetted sublayer, promoting previously unobserved coalescence events where numerous droplets simultaneously merge, without direct contact. Such ensemble coalescences rapidly create fresh nucleation sites, thereby shifting the overall population toward smaller droplets and enhancing the rates of mass and heat transfer during condensation.
- Industrial Chemistry and Chemical Processing