Much effort to understand the governing mechanisms of dropwise condensation has been expended over several decades. A complete description is still missing as a result of the complexity of the phenomenon, and still today, researchers are giving much attention to this topic, owing to its importance for several scientific fields such as energy conversion, water harvesting, thermal management systems, and anti-icing. In particular, an improved understanding will unlock the possibility of engineering the position of condensed droplets on a surface. The random nature of condensation in both time and space impedes the spatial control of condensation. However, the ability to control the spatial positions of condensed droplets would allow the creation of microdroplet arrays, which could be a game changer for assays, e.g., biochemical assays.
Preparation of colloidal suspensions and characterization of particle distribution after evaporation: Our collaborators provide various stock suspensions containing micronsized hydrophilic particles. From this, a number of suspensions with different particle concentrations are prepared and let to evaporate on both water-loving and repellent materials. The particle pattern at the completion of evaporation is characterized using optical or scanning electron microscopy. We may also attempt to create a model which a priory can predict the resulting pattern.
Condensation pattern: On the samples prepared by evaporation, condensation is hereafter performed. In general, water has an affinity for water-loving materials, which should alter the normal randomness of the condensation. Your job is to show that this is, in fact, the case, and you have an opportunity to play around with the various parameters affecting the condensation pattern. Furthermore, we will take advantage of the first results to show a brand new method to characterize wetting properties of materials, which, for instance, is important for the paint industry, but is information which can also be used to create anti-fogging and anti-icing surfaces.