Smart design of stripe-patterned gradient surfaces to control droplet motion

Langmuir. 2011 Sep 6;27(17):11238-45. doi: 10.1021/la201671w. Epub 2011 Aug 9.


The motion of droplets under the influence of lithographically created anisotropic chemically defined patterns is described and discussed. The patterns employed in our experiments consist of stripes of alternating wettability: hydrophobic stripes are created via fluorinated self-assembled monolayers, and for hydrophilic stripes, the SiO(2) substrate is used. The energy gradient required to induce the motion of the droplets is created by varying the relative widths of the stripes in such a way that the fraction of the hydrophilic area increases. The anisotropic patterns create a preferential direction for liquid spreading parallel to the stripes and confine motion to the perpendicular direction, giving rise to markedly higher velocities as compared to nonstructured surface energy gradients. Consequently, the influence of the distinct pattern features on the overall motion as well as suggestions for design improvements from an application point of view are discussed.