Condensation droplet sieve

Nat Commun. 2022 Sep 14;13(1):5381. doi: 10.1038/s41467-022-32873-1.


Large droplets emerging during dropwise condensation impair surface properties such as anti-fogging/frosting ability and heat transfer efficiency. How to spontaneously detach massive randomly distributed droplets with controlled sizes has remained a challenge. Herein, we present a solution called condensation droplet sieve, through fabricating microscale thin-walled lattice structures coated with a superhydrophobic layer. Growing droplets were observed to jump off this surface once becoming slightly larger than the lattices. The maximum radius and residual volume of droplets were strictly confined to 16 μm and 3.2 nl/mm2 respectively. We reveal that this droplet radius cut off is attributed to the large tolerance of coalescence mismatch for jumping and effective isolation of droplets between neighboring lattices. Our work brings forth a strategy for the design and fabrication of high-performance anti-dew materials.