Contact-angle hysteresis provides resistance to drainage of liquid-infused surfaces in turbulent flows

Sofia Saoncella, Si Suo, Johan Sundin, Agastya Parikh, Marcus Hultmark, Wouter Metsola Van Der Wijngaart, Fredrik Lundell, Shervin Bagheri

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Lubricated textured surfaces immersed in liquid flows offer tremendous potential for reducing fluid drag, enhancing heat and mass transfer, and preventing fouling. According to current design rules, the lubricant must chemically match the surface to remain robustly trapped within the texture. However, achieving such chemical compatibility poses a significant challenge for large-scale flow systems, as it demands advanced surface treatments or severely limits the range of viable lubricants. In addition, chemically tuned surfaces often degrade over time in harsh environments. Here, we demonstrate that a lubricant-infused surface (LIS) can resist drainage in the presence of external shear flow without requiring chemical compatibility. Surfaces featuring longitudinal grooves can retain up to 50% of partially wetting lubricants in fully developed turbulent flows. The retention relies on contact-angle hysteresis, where triple-phase contact lines are pinned to substrate heterogeneities, creating capillary resistance that prevents lubricant depletion. We develop an analytical model to predict the maximum length of pinned lubricant droplets in microgrooves. This model, validated through a combination of experiments and numerical simulations, can be used to design chemistry-free LISs for applications where the external environment is continuously flowing. Our findings open up new possibilities for using functional surfaces to control transport processes in large systems.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number054002
JournalPhysical Review Fluids
Issue number5
StatePublished - May 2024

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Computational Mechanics
  • Modeling and Simulation
  • Fluid Flow and Transfer Processes


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