Avoiding Droplet Contact

Cold rain splashing on airplane wings can freeze in instants. To prevent that, researchers look for ways to minimize the time and area of contact a drop has. Hydrophobic coatings and textures can do some of the work, but they are easily damaged and don’t always work well when it comes to freezing.

The new technique shown here uses ring-shaped “waterbowls” to help deflect drops. As the drop impacts and spreads, the walls of the ring texture force the lamella up and off the surface. This reduces both the time and area of contact and, under the right circumstances, cuts the heat transfer between the fluid and surface in half. The technique is useful for more than just preventing freezing, though; it would also be helpful for waterproofing breathable fabrics, where shedding moisture quickly without clogging pores is key to keeping the wearer dry. (Image and research credit: H. Girard et al.; via MIT News and Gizmodo)

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