Dynamics of capillary spreading along hydrophilic microstripes

A.A. Darhuber, S.M. Troian, W.W. Reisner

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    We have studied the capillary spreading of a Newtonian liquid along hydrophilic microstripes that are chemically defined on a hydrophobic substrate. The front of the spreading film advances in time according to a power law x=Bt(1/2). This exponent of 1/2 is much larger than the value 1/10 observed in the axisymmetric spreading of a wetting droplet. It is identical to the exponent found for wicking in open or closed microchannels. Even though no wicking occurs in our system, the influence of surface curvature induced by the lateral confinement of the liquid stripe also leads to an exponent of 1/2 but with a strongly modified prefactor B. We obtain excellent experimental agreement with the predicted time dependence of the front location and the dependence of the front speed on the stripe width. Additional experiments and simulations reveal the influence of the reservoir volume, liquid material parameters, edge roughness, and nonwetting defects. These results are relevant to liquid dosing applications or microfluidic delivery systems based on free-surface flow.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)031603-1/8
    Number of pages8
    JournalPhysical Review E - Statistical, Nonlinear, and Soft Matter Physics
    Issue number3
    Publication statusPublished - 2001


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