A single parameter can predict surfactant impairment of superhydrophobic drag reduction.

TitleA single parameter can predict surfactant impairment of superhydrophobic drag reduction.
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2023
AuthorsTemprano-Coleto F, Smith SM, Peaudecerf FJ, Landel JR, Gibou F, Luzzatto-Fegiz P
JournalProc Natl Acad Sci U S A
Date Published2023 Jan 17
KeywordsHydrophobic and Hydrophilic Interactions, Lipoproteins, Microfluidics, Pulmonary Surfactants, Surface-Active Agents

Recent experimental and computational investigations have shown that trace amounts of surfactants, unavoidable in practice, can critically impair the drag reduction of superhydrophobic surfaces (SHSs), by inducing Marangoni stresses at the air-liquid interface. However, predictive models for realistic SHS geometries do not yet exist, which has limited the understanding and mitigation of these adverse surfactant effects. To address this issue, we derive a model for laminar, three-dimensional flow over SHS gratings as a function of geometry and soluble surfactant properties, which together encompass 10 dimensionless groups. We establish that the grating length is the key geometric parameter and predict that the ratio between actual and surfactant-free slip increases with . Guided by our model, we perform synergistic numerical simulations and microfluidic experiments, finding good agreement with the theory as we vary surfactant type and SHS geometry. Our model also enables the estimation, based on velocity measurements, of a priori unknown properties of surfactants inherently present in microfluidic systems. For SHSs, we show that surfactant effects can be predicted by a single parameter, representing the ratio between the grating length and the interface length scale beyond which the flow mobilizes the air-water interface. This mobilization length is more sensitive to the surfactant chemistry than to its concentration, such that even trace-level contaminants may significantly increase drag if they are highly surface active. These findings advance the fundamental understanding of realistic interfacial flows and provide practical strategies to maximize superhydrophobic drag reduction.

Alternate JournalProc Natl Acad Sci U S A
PubMed ID36634141