Thermally induced delay and reversal of liquid film dewetting on chemically patterned surfaces

Sreeram K. Kalpathy, Lorraine F. Francis, Satish Kumar

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

12 Scopus citations


A thin liquid film resting on a solid substrate that is heated or cooled from below experiences surface tension gradients, which lead to Marangoni flows. We explore the behavior of such a film on a chemically patterned substrate which drives film dewetting in order to determine how surface patterning and applied temperature gradients can be designed to influence the behavior of thin-film coatings. A nonlinear partial differential equation for the film height based on lubrication theory is solved numerically for a broad range of problem parameters. Uniform cooling of the substrate is found to significantly delay dewetting that is driven by wettability gradients. Uniform heating speeds up dewetting but can destroy the near-perfect templating imposed by the surface patterning. However, localized heating and cooling together can accelerate dewetting while maintaining templating quality. Localized heating and cooling can also be used to drive liquid onto areas that it would dewet from in the absence of heating. Overall, these results indicate that applied temperature gradients can significantly influence dewetting driven by surface patterning, and suggest strategies for the creation of spatially patterned thin-film coatings and flow control in microfluidic devices.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)212-219
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of Colloid And Interface Science
Issue number1
StatePublished - 2013

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This work was supported through the Industrial Partnership for Research in Interfacial and Materials Engineering at the University of Minnesota. We also acknowledge partial support through a Doctoral Dissertation Fellowship from the University of Minnesota (S. Kalpathy) and Department of Energy award No. DE-FG02-07ER46415 (S. Kumar). We are grateful to the University of Minnesota Supercomputing Institute for access to their resources.


  • Chemically patterned surfaces
  • Thermal Marangoni flows
  • Thin liquid films


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