Electrowetting-based control of droplet transition and morphology on artificially microstructured surfaces

Vaibhav Bahadur, Purdue University - Main Campus
Suresh Garimella, School of Mechanical Engineering

Date of this Version


This document has been peer-reviewed.



Electrowetting (EW) has recently been demonstrated as a powerful tool for controlling droplet morphology on smooth and artificially structured surfaces. The present work involves a systematic experimental investigation of the influence of electrowetting in determining and altering the state of astatic droplet resting on an artificially microstructured surface. Extensive experimentation is carried out to benchmark a previously developed energy-minimization-based model that analyzed the influence of interfacial energies, surface roughness parameters, and electric fields in determining the apparent contact angle of a droplet in the Cassie and Wenzel states under the influence of an EW voltage. The EW voltage required to trigger a transition from the Cassie state to the Wenzel state is experimentally determined for surfaces having a wide range of surface parameters (surface roughness and fraction of surface area covered with pillars). The reversibility of the Cassie-Wenzel transition upon the removal of the EW voltage is also quantified and analyzed. The experimental results from the present work form the basis for the design of surfaces that enable dynamic control of droplet morphology. A significant finding from the present work is that nonconservative dissipative forces have a significant influence in opposing fluid flow inside the microstructured surface that inhibits reversibility of the Cassie-Wenzel transition. The artificially structured surfaces considered in this work have microscale roughness feature sizes that permits direct visual observation of EW-induced Cassie-Wenzel droplet transition; this is the first reported visual confirmation of EW-induced droplet state transition.