Tip-induced flipping of droplets on Janus pillars: From local reconfiguration to global transport

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Science Advances  08 Jul 2020:
Vol. 6, no. 28, eabb4540
DOI: 10.1126/sciadv.abb4540


Despite their simplicity, water droplets manifest a wide spectrum of forms and dynamics, which can be actuated using special texture at solid surfaces to achieve desired functions. Along this vein, natural or synthetic materials can be rendered water repellent, oleophobic, antifogging, anisotropic, etc.—all properties arising from an original design of the substrate and/or from the use of special materials promoting capillary or elastic forces at the droplet scale. Here, we report an original phenomenon occurring at the tip of asymmetric (half-flat, half-curved) pillars: Droplets reconfigure and get oriented on the curved side of these Janus tips. This local, geometry-driven effect, namely, tip-induced flipping of droplets, is found to be generic and have spectacular global consequences: Vast assemblies of Janus pillars enable a continuous, long-range, and fast self-transport of water harvested from fogs, which makes it possible to collect and concentrate droplets at different scales.

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