Masters Theses

Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Science


Electrical Engineering

Major Professor

Jayne Wu

Committee Members

Brian R. D'Urso, John T. Simpson


Fluid behavior at the microscale exhibits large surface to volume ratios increasing the significance of interfacial phenomena. We have studied two microfluidic phenomena that utilize interplay between microstructure and chemical composition. The first one causes liquid droplets to roll off from surfaces with a very high contact angle. This phenomenon is called superhydrophobic behavior, can be controlled by several tuning parameters. The second one changes the wettability of liquids on a dielectric coated surface with electric potential. The experimental studies were done by first fabricating an ordered array of glass nanocones. Fiber drawing and differential glass etching processes were used to produce cone like structures with lattice constant of 40 μm down to 1.6 μm. The superhydrophobic behavior was first studied and modeled in a series of nanocone wafers of increasing aspect ratio from .3 to 15. The characterization was done by the measurement of the contact and rolling angles. The Wenzel to Cassie transition of wetting states was observed. The contact angles were calculated by using the ‘axisymmetric drop shape analysis’ approach. Next, the study of the electrowetting behavior of two broad categories of structured surfaces was done. One was a low aspect ratio surface exhibiting Wenzel wetting and the other was a high aspect ratio surface exhibiting Cassie wetting. The device for experimental study was prepared by coating additional layers, which included conductive gold and dielectric Parylene-C coatings. Studies were done using silicone oil and air as the ambient medium. Images of drops were taken at different voltages and the contact angles were calculated geometrically. Electrowetting on nanocone arrays was modeled using an energybased approach and the obtained theoretical curves were compared to the experimental ones. Oil helped in achieving a large contact angle change. A qualitative analysis of the electrowetting properties of the surfaces was done based on the voltage-contact angle curves.

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