Langmuir, Vol.37, No.3, 1206-1214, 2021
Brightness of Microtrench Superhydrophobic Surfaces and Visual Detection of Intermediate Wetting States
For a superhydrophobic (SHPo) surface under water, the dewetted or wetted states are easily distinguishable by the bright silvery plastron or lack of it, respectively. However, to detect an intermediate state between the two, where water partially intrudes the surface roughness, a special visualization technique has been needed. Focusing on SHPo surfaces of parallel microtrenches and considering drag reduction as a prominent application, we (i) show the reliance on surface brightness alone may seriously mislead the wetting state, (ii) theorize how the brightness is determined by water intrusion depth and viewing direction, (iii) support the theory experimentally with confocal microscopy and CCD cameras, (iv) present how to estimate the intrusion depth using optical images taken from different angles, and (v) showcase how to detect intermediate states slightly off the properly dewetted state by simply looking. The proposed method would allow monitoring SHPo trench surfaces without bulky instruments-especially useful for large samples and field tests.