Calculus of Variations and Geometric Measure Theory
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G. Alberti - A. DeSimone

Wetting of rough surfaces: a homogenization approach

created on 25 Feb 2004
modified by alberti on 06 Mar 2007


Published Paper

Inserted: 25 feb 2004
Last Updated: 6 mar 2007

Journal: Proc. R. Soc. Lond. Ser. A Math. Phys. Eng. Sci.
Volume: 461
Pages: 79-97
Year: 2005


The contact angle of a drop in equilibrium on a solid is strongly affected by the roughness of the surface on which it rests. We study the roughness-induced enhancement of the hydrophobic or hydrophilic properties of a solid surface through homogenization theory. By relying on a variational formulation of the problem, we show that the macroscopic contact angle is associated with the solution of two cell problems, giving the minimal energy per unit macroscopic area for a transition layer between the rough solid surface and a liquid or vapor phase. Our results are valid for both chemically heterogeneous and homogeneous surfaces. In the latter case, a very transparent structure emerges from the variational approach: the classical laws of Wenzel and Cassie-Baxter give bounds for the optimal energy, and configurations of minimal energy are those leading to the smallest macroscopic contact angle in the hydrophobic case, to the largest one in the hydrophilic case.

Keywords: Homogenization, wetting, contact angle, rough surfaces


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