AC electrohydrodynamic instabilities in thin liquid films

Scott A. Roberts, Satish Kumar

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

73 Scopus citations


When DC electric fields are applied to a thin liquid film, the interface may become unstable and form a series of pillars. In this paper, we apply lubrication theory to examine the possibility of using AC electric fields to exert further control over the size and shape of the pillars. For perfect dielectric films, linear stability analysis shows that the influence of an AC field can be understood by considering an effective DC field. For leaky dielectric films, Floquet theory is applied to carry out the linear stability analysis, and it reveals that high frequencies may be used to inhibit the accumulation of interfacial free charge, leading to a lowering of growth rates and wavenumbers. Nonlinear simulations confirm the results of the linear stability analysis while also uncovering additional mechanisms for tuning overall pillar height and width. The results presented here may be of interest for the controlled creation of surface topographical features in applications such as patterned coatings and microelectronics.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)255-279
Number of pages25
JournalJournal of Fluid Mechanics
StatePublished - 2009

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This material is based upon work supported by the Department of Energy under Award Number DE-FG02-07ER46415. We are grateful for resources from the University of Minnesota Supercomputing Institute.


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