Nature communications

High-resolution liquid patterns via three-dimensional droplet shape control.

PMID 25255197


Understanding liquid dynamics on surfaces can provide insight into nature's design and enable fine manipulation capability in biological, manufacturing, microfluidic and thermal management applications. Of particular interest is the ability to control the shape of the droplet contact area on the surface, which is typically circular on a smooth homogeneous surface. Here, we show the ability to tailor various droplet contact area shapes ranging from squares, rectangles, hexagons, octagons, to dodecagons via the design of the structure or chemical heterogeneity on the surface. We simultaneously obtain the necessary physical insights to develop a universal model for the three-dimensional droplet shape by characterizing the droplet side and top profiles. Furthermore, arrays of droplets with controlled shapes and high spatial resolution can be achieved using this approach. This liquid-based patterning strategy promises low-cost fabrication of integrated circuits, conductive patterns and bio-microarrays for high-density information storage and miniaturized biochips and biosensors, among others.