This work proposes a theoretical model for predicting the apparent equilibrium contact angle of a liquid on an ideal rough surface that is homogeneous and has a negligible body force, line tension, or contact angle hysteresis between solid and liquid. The model is derived from the conservation equations and the free-energy minimization theory for the changes of state of liquid droplets. The work of adhesion is expressed as the contact angles in the wetting process of the liquid droplets. Equilibrium contact angles of liquid droplets for rough surfaces are expressed as functions of the area ratios for the solid, liquid, and surrounding gas and the roughness ratio and wetting ratio of the liquid on the solid for the partially and fully wet states. It is found that the ideal critical angle for accentuating the contact angles by the surface roughness is 48°. The present model is compared with existing experimental data and the classical Wenzel and Cassie-Baxter models and agrees with most of the experimental data for various surfaces and liquids better than does the Wenzel model and accounts for trends that the Wenzel model cannot explain.
© 2011 American Chemical Society