Pinning a Drop

The shape of a droplet sitting on a surface depends, in part, on its surface tension properties but also on the nanoscale roughness of the surface. Small variations in the height and shape of the surface will change the area a drop contacts as well as the contact angle the edge of the drop makes with the surface. If the contact line between the drop and surface stays the same as a droplet evaporates into the surrounding gas or dissolves into the surrounding liquid, then we say the drop is pinned. A pinned drop’s contact angle will decrease as the drop’s volume decreases. This strains the ability of the nanoscale roughness to keep the drop’s edge pinned. As individual points of contact fail, the drop’s edge may jump inward to a new contact point. This set of discrete jumps between pinned states is called a stick-jump or stick-slip mode. (Image credit: E. Dietrich et al., source; see also: E. Dietrich et al. 2015)

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