Imbibition by polygonal spreading on microdecorated surfaces

Laurent Courbin, Etienne Denieul, Emilie Dressaire, Marcus Roper, Armand Ajdari, Howard A. Stone

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

279 Scopus citations


Micropatterned surfaces have been studied extensively as model systems to understand influences of topographic or chemical heterogeneities on wetting phenomena. Such surfaces yield specific wetting or hydrodynamic effects, for example, ultrahydrophobic surfaces, fakir droplets, tunable electrowetting, slip in the presence of surface heterogeneities and so on. In addition, chemical patterns allow control of the locus, size and shape of droplets by pinning the contact lines at predetermined locations. Applications include the design of self-cleaning surfaces and hydrophilic spots to automate the deposition of probes on DNA chips. Here, we discuss wetting on topographically patterned but chemically homogeneous surfaces and demonstrate mechanisms of shape selection during imbibition of the texture. We obtain different deterministic final shapes of the spreading droplets, including octagons, squares, hexagons and circles. The shape selection depends on the topographic features and the liquid through its equilibrium contact angle. Considerations of the dynamics provide a shape diagram that summarizes our observations and suggest rules for a designers tool box.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)661-664
Number of pages4
JournalNature Materials
Issue number9
StatePublished - Sep 2007

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • General Chemistry
  • Condensed Matter Physics
  • Mechanics of Materials
  • Mechanical Engineering
  • General Materials Science


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