Effect of Reynolds number and saturation level on gas diffusion in and out of a superhydrophobic surface

Hangjian Ling, Joseph Katz, Matthew Fu, Marcus Hultmark

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This experimental study investigates the effects of ambient pressure and Reynolds number on the volume of a plastron in a superhydrophobic surface (SHS) due to compression and gas diffusion. The hierarchical SHS consists of nanotextured, ∼100 μm wide spanwise grooves. Microscopic observations measure the time evolution of interface height and contact angle. The water tunnel tests are performed both without flow as well as in transitional and turbulent boundary layers at several Reynolds numbers. Particle image velocimetry is used for estimating the wall shear stress and calculating the momentum thickness for the SHSs under Cassie-Baxter (CB) and Wenzel states as well as a smooth wall at the same conditions. Holographic microscopy is used for determining the wall shear stress directly for one of the CB cases. The mass diffusion rate is calculated from changes to the plastron volume when the liquid is under- or supersaturated. For stationary water, the mass diffusion is slow. With increasing pressure, the interface is initially pinned and then migrates into the groove with high advancing contact angle. Upon subsequent decrease in pressure, the interface migrates upward at a shallow angle and, after being pinned to the tip corner, becomes convex. With flow and exposure to undersaturated liquid, the diffusion-induced wetting also involves pinned and downward migration states, followed by shrinkage of the plastron until it decreases below the resolution limit. The corresponding changes to the velocity profile indicate a transition from slight drag reduction to significant drag increase. In supersaturated water starting at a Wenzel state, a bubble grows from one of the bottom corners until it reaches the other side of the groove. Subsequently, dewetting involves upward migration of the interface, pinning to the tip corners, and formation of a convex interface. The diffusion rate increases with the level of under- or supersaturation and with the Reynolds number. A power law relation, ShΘ0=0.47ReΘ00.77, is obtained for the turbulent flow regime using the smooth wall momentum thickness for calculating the Sherwood (ShΘ0) and Reynolds (ReΘ0) numbers. This relation agrees with published diffusion rates for smooth wall turbulent boundary layers. However, the mass diffusion rate is lower than this prediction in the transitional boundary layer. When ShΘ0 is plotted against the friction Reynolds number (Reτ0) instead, both the transitional and turbulent boundary layer results collapse onto a single power law, ShΘ0=0.34Reτ00.913. This trend suggests that turbulent diffusion and wall friction are correlated. The relation between Sherwood number and momentum thickness Reynolds number persists if length scales of the Wenzel state are used instead of those of the smooth wall. However, trends with the friction Reynolds number change slightly.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number124005
JournalPhysical Review Fluids
Issue number12
StatePublished - Dec 2017

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

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


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