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Langmuir. 2007 Feb 13;23(4):1723-34.

Water wetting transition parameters of perfluorinated substrates with periodically distributed flat-top microscale obstacles.

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Ecole Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne (EPFL), Advanced Photonics Laboratory, CH-1015 Lausanne, Switzerland.


Superhydrophobicity is obtained on photolithographically structured silicon surfaces consisting of flat-top pillars after a perfluorosilanization treatment. Systematic static contact angle measurements were carried out on these surfaces as a function of pillar parameters that geometrically determine the surface roughness, including pillar height, diameter, top perimeter, overall filling factor, and disposition. In line with thermodynamics models, two regimes of static contact angles are observed varying each parameter independently: the "Cassie" regime, in which the water drop sits suspended on top of the pillars (referred to as composite), corresponding to experimental contact angles greater than 140-150 degrees, and the "Wenzel" regime, in which water completely wets the asperities (referred to as wetted), corresponding to lower experimental contact angles. A transition between the Cassie and Wenzel regimes corresponds to a set of well-defined parameters. By smoothly depositing water drops on the surfaces, this transition is observed for surface parameter values far from the calculated ones for the thermodynamic transition, therefore offering evidence for the existence of metastable composite states. For all studied parameters, the position of the experimental transition correlates well with a rough estimation of the energy barrier to be overcome from a composite metastable state in order to reach the thermodynamically favored Wenzel state. This energy barrier is estimated as the surface energy variation between the Cassie state and the hypothetical composite state with complete filling of the surface asperities by water, keeping the contact angle constant.


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