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Stability and dynamics of droplets on patterned substrates: insights from experiments and lattice Boltzmann simulations
The stability and dynamics of droplets on solid substrates are studied both theoretically and via experiments. Focusing on our recent achievements within the DFG-priority program 1164 (Nano-and Microﬂuidics), we ﬁrst consider the case of (large) droplets on the so-called gradient substrates. Here the term gradient refers to both a change of wettability (chemical gradient) or topography (roughness gradient). While the motion of a droplet on a perfectly ﬂat substrate upon the action of a chemical gradient appears to be a natural consequence of the considered situation, we show that the behavior of a droplet on a gradient of topography is less obvious. Nevertheless, if care is taken in the choice of the topographic patterns (in order to reduce hysteresis effects), a motion may be observed. Interestingly, in this case, simple scaling arguments adequately account for the dependence of the droplet velocity on the roughness gradient (Moradi et al 2010 Europhys. Lett. 89 26006). Another issue addressed in this paper is the behavior of droplets on hydrophobic substrates with a periodic arrangement of square shaped pillars. Here, it is possible to propose an analytically solvable model for the case where the droplet size becomes comparable to the roughness scale (Gross et al 2009 Europhys. Lett. 88 26002). Two important predictions of the model are highlighted here. (i) There exists a state with a ﬁnite penetration depth, distinct from the full wetting (Wenzel) and suspended (Cassie–Baxter, CB) states.(ii) Upon quasi-static evaporation, a droplet initially on the top of the pillars (CB state) undergoes a transition to this new state with a ﬁnite penetration depth but then (upon further evaporation) climbs up the pillars and goes back to the CB state again. These predictions are conﬁrmed via independent numerical simulations. Moreover, we also address the fundamental issue of the internal droplet dynamics and the terminal center of mass velocity on a ﬂat substrate.