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Langmuir. 2014 Aug 12;30(31):9346-54. doi: 10.1021/la501455d. Epub 2014 Jul 29.

On the uniqueness of the receding contact angle: effects of substrate roughness and humidity on evaporation of water drops.

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  • 1Department of Chemical Engineering National Taiwan University of Science and Technology , 43 Keelung Road, Section 4, Taipei 106, Taiwan.


Could a unique receding contact angle be indicated for describing the wetting properties of a real gas-liquid-solid system? Could a receding contact angle be defined if the triple line of a sessile drop is not moving at all during the whole measurement process? To what extent is the receding contact angle influenced by the intrinsic properties of the system or the measurement procedures? In order to answer these questions, a systematic investigation was conducted in this study on the effects of substrate roughness and relative humidity on the behavior of pure water drops spreading and evaporating on polycarbonate (PC) surfaces characterized by different morphologies. Dynamic, advancing, and receding contact angles were found to be strongly affected by substrate roughness. Specifically, a receding contact angle could not be measured at all for drops evaporating on the more rugged PC surfaces, since the drops were observed strongly pinning to the substrate almost until their complete disappearance. Substrate roughness and system relative humidity were also found responsible for drastic changes in the depinning time (from ∼10 to ∼60 min). Thus, for measurement observations not sufficiently long, no movement of the triple line could be noted, with, again, the failure to find a receding contact angle. Therefore, to keep using concepts such as the receding contact angle as meaningful specifications of a given gas-liquid-solid system, the imperative to carefully investigate and report the inner characteristics of the system (substrate roughness, topography, impurities, defects, chemical properties, etc.) is pointed out in this study. The necessity of establishing methodological standards (drop size, measurement method, system history, observation interval, relative humidity, etc.) is also suggested.

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