Apparent Contact Angles on Lubricant Impregnated Surfaces/SLIPS: From Superhydrophobicity to Electrowetting

Glen McHale, Bethany Orme, Gary Wells, Rodrigo Ledesma Aguilar

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

53 Citations (Scopus)
66 Downloads (Pure)


A fundamental limitation of liquids on many surfaces is their contact line pinning. This limitation can be overcome by infusing a nonvolatile and immiscible liquid or lubricant into the texture or roughness created in or applied onto the solid substrate so that the liquid of interest no longer directly contacts the underlying surface. Such slippery liquid-infused porous surfaces (SLIPS), also known as lubricant-impregnated surfaces, completely remove contact line pinning and contact angle hysteresis. However, although a sessile droplet may rest on such a surface, its contact angle can be only an apparent contact angle because its contact is now with a second liquid and not a solid. Close to the solid, the droplet has a wetting ridge with a force balance of the liquid-liquid and liquid-vapor interfacial tensions described by Neumann's triangle rather than Young's law. Here, we show how, provided the lubricant coating is thin and the wetting ridge is small, a surface free energy approach can be used to obtain an apparent contact angle equation analogous to Young's law using interfacial tensions for the lubricant-vapor and liquid-lubricant and an effective interfacial tension for the combined liquid-lubricant-vapor interfaces. This effective interfacial tension is the sum of the liquid-lubricant and the lubricant-vapor interfacial tensions or the liquid-vapor interfacial tension for a positive and negative spreading power of the lubricant on the liquid, respectively. Using this approach, we then show how Cassie-Baxter, Wenzel, hemiwicking, and other equations for rough, textured or complex geometry surfaces and for electrowetting and dielectrowetting can be used with the Young's law contact angle replaced by the apparent contact angle from the equivalent smooth lubricant-impregnated surface. The resulting equations are consistent with the literature data. These results enable equilibrium contact angle theory for sessile droplets on surfaces to be used widely for surfaces that retain a thin and conformal SLIPS coating.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)4197-4204
Issue number11
Early online date13 Feb 2019
Publication statusPublished - 19 Mar 2019


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