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Langmuir. 2012 Sep 18;28(37):13300-6. doi: 10.1021/la302726z. Epub 2012 Sep 4.

Buoyant droplets on functional fibers.

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Physics of Complex Fluids, Faculty of Science and Technology, University of Twente, P.O. Box 217, 7500 AE Enschede, The Netherlands.


In the absence of gravity, the wetting of droplets on fibers is characterized by the competition between an axisymmetric barrel morphology engulfing the fiber and a symmetry-broken clamshell morphology with the droplet sitting on the side of the fiber. In the generic case of nonzero buoyancy the cylindrical symmetry of the barrel morphology is broken, yet barrels and clamshells can still be distinguished based on their different interfacial topologies being multiply and simply connected, respectively. Next to contact angle and droplet size the capillary length appears as a third parameter controlling the droplet morphology. For droplets of variable size, contact angle and buoyancy are independently varied in experiments by use of electrowetting and density mismatch. This approach--together with the complementary numerical calculations--provides new insights into the gradual shifts of the stability limits in the presence of an external volume force. Overall, the parameter space for stable clamshells is found to expand with increasing gravitational forces, gradually shrinking the regimes of stable barrels and bistability. In addition, a new stability limit is introduced for the clamshell morphology related to a partial detachment of the wetting liquid from the fiber, appearing toward higher droplet volumes.


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