Direct determination of three-phase contact line properties on nearly molecular scale

Authors/others:Winkler, P. M.; McGraw, R. L. (Brookhaven National Laboratory); Bauer, Paulus; Rentenberger, C.; Wagner, Paul
Abstract:Wetting phenomena in multi-phase systems govern the shape of the contact line which separates the different phases. For liquids in contact with solid surfaces wetting is typically described in terms of contact angle. While in macroscopic systems the contact angle can be determined experimentally, on the molecular scale contact angles are hardly accessible. Here we report the first direct experimental determination of contact angles as well as contact line curvature on a scale of the order of 1nm. For water nucleating heterogeneously on Ag nanoparticles we find contact angles around 15 degrees compared to 90 degrees for the corresponding macroscopically measured equilibrium angle. The obtained microscopic contact angles can be attributed to negative line tension in the order of -10(-10) J/m that becomes increasingly dominant with increasing curvature of the contact line. These results enable a consistent theoretical description of heterogeneous nucleation and provide firm insight to the wetting of nanosized objects.
Number of pages:7
Date of publication:17.5.2016
Journal title:Scientific Reports
Peer reviewed:true
Digital Object Identifier (DOI):
Publication Type:Article