Turning a Superhydrophilic Surface Weakly Hydrophilic: Topological Wetting States

YR Gao and CQ Zhu and C Zuhlke and D Alexander and JS Francisco and XC Zeng, JOURNAL OF THE AMERICAN CHEMICAL SOCIETY, 142, 18491-18502 (2020).

DOI: 10.1021/jacs.0c07224

For water droplets placed on a rough or structured surface, two distinct wetting states commonly observed are either the Wenzel state (droplets wet the surface without showing air pockets beneath the droplets) or the Cassie state (droplets reside on top of the structure with air pockets trapped beneath the droplets). Herein, we show molecular dynamics (MD) simulation evidence of a previously unreported wetting behavior, i.e., the rise of multiple Wenzel states on the structured surfaces whose flat-surface counterparts are superhydrophilic (i.e., complete wetting surfaces with the hallmark of zero contact angle for water droplets). Specifically, our MD simulations show that on the structured surfaces with topology of closed-loop nanowalls/nanochannels, the water droplet can exhibit multiple Wenzel wetting states with the apparent contact angles >0 degrees. We name these distinct multiple Wenzel states as "topological wetting states" because their existence can be attributed to the topology of the closed-loop nanowalls/nanochannels. Regardless of the shape of the closed loops, such topological wetting states can always arise due to the topological invariant (i.e., all closed loops entail the same topological genus value). This unusual wetting behavior is contrary to the conventional view (and to the prediction of the Wenzel equation), namely, a rough hydrophilic surface should have stronger hydrophilicity than its flat-surface counterpart.

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