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Analyst. 2013 Apr 21;138(8):2372-7. doi: 10.1039/c3an36832g.

Influence of electrolytes on contact angles of droplets under electric field.

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Department of Power Mechanical Engineering, National Tsing Hua University, Taiwan.


The change of contact angle is one of the major subjects in the studies of electrowetting on dielectrics. A larger change in contact angle with a less applied electric potential has been pursued by the researchers on digital microfluidics. From previous research it is concluded that the effect of free charges in electrolytes on contact angles can almost be neglected. In this article, obvious influences of free charges on contact angles are presented and discussed. To verify the influence of free charges, both weak electrolyte (boric acid) and strong electrolyte (sodium chloride) are used as sources of free charges in our experiment. It was found that the increase of ion concentration enhances the contact angle variation due to the attraction between the bound surface charges in the dielectric layer and the free counter-ions in the solution. The saturated contact angle occurs with a lower electric potential compared with de-ionized water due to the shielding of the electric field by the free counter-ions. When a strong electrolyte is used, the contact angle varies at a much higher rate than with de-ionized water, and the huge amount of accumulated free ions shields the driving field, causing the contact angle to saturate at a much lower electric potential. The saturated contact angle in strong electrolyte solution is markedly larger than those in weak electrolyte solutions and de-ionized water.

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