Evaporation and Buckling Dynamics of Sessile Droplets Resting on Hydrophobic Substrates
Bansal, Lalit Kumar
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Droplet evaporation is ubiquitous to multitude of applications such as microfluidics, surface patterning and ink-jet printing. In many of the process like food processing tiny concentrations of suspended particles may alter the behavior of an evaporating droplet remarkably, leading to partially viscous and partially elastic dynamical characteristics. This, in turn, may lead to some striking mechanical instabilities, such as buckling and rupture. In this thesis, we provide a comprehensive physical description of the vaporization, self-assembly, agglomeration and buckling kinetics of sessile nanofluid droplet pinned on a hydrophobic substrate in various configurations. We have deciphered five distinct regimes of droplet lifecycle. Regime I-III consists of evaporation induced preferential agglomeration that leads to the formation of unique dome shaped inhomogeneous shell with stratified varying density liquid core. Regime IV involves capillary pressure initiated shell buckling and stress induced shell rupture. Regime V marks rupture induced cavity inception and growth. We provide a regime map explaining the droplet morphology and buckling characteristics for droplets evaporating on various substrates. Specifically, we find that final droplet volume and radius of curvature at buckling onset are universal functions of particle concentration. Furthermore, flow characteristics inside the heated and unheated droplets are investigated and found to be driven by the buoyancy effects. Velocity magnitudes are observed to increase by an order at higher temperatures with self-similar flow profiles. With an increase in the surface temperature, droplets exhibit buckling from multiple sites over a larger sector in the top half of the droplet. In addition, irrespective of the initial nanoparticle concentration and substrate temperature, hydrophobicity and roughness, growth of daughter cavity (subsequent to buckling) inside the droplet is found to be controlled by the solvent evaporation rate from the droplet periphery. The results are of great significance to a plethora of applications like DNA deposition and nanofabrication. In the next part of the thesis, we deploy the droplet in a rectangular channel. The rich physics governing the universality in the underlying dynamics remains grossly elusive. Here, we bring out hitherto unexplored universal features of the evaporation dynamics of a sessile droplet entrapped in a 3D confined fluidic environment. Increment in channel length delays the completion of the evaporation process and leads to unique spatio-temporal evaporation flux and internal flow. We show, through extensive set of experiments and theoretical formulations, that the evaporationtimescale for such a droplet can be represented by a unique function of the initial conditions. Moreover, using same theoretical considerations, we are able to trace and universally merge the volume evolution history of the droplets along with evaporation lifetimes, irrespective of the extent of confinement. These results are explained in the light of increase in vapor concentration inside the channel due to greater accumulation of water vapor on account of increased channel length. We have formulated a theoretical framework which introduces two key parameters namely an enhanced concentration of the vapor field in the vicinity of the confined droplet and a corresponding accumulation lengthscale over which the accumulated vapor relaxes to the ambient concentration. Lastly, we report the effect of confinement on particle agglomeration and buckling dynamics. Compared to unconfined scenario, we report non-intuitive suppression of rupturing beyond a critical confinement. We attribute this to confinement-induced dramatic alteration in the evaporating flux, leading to distinctive spatio-temporal characteristics of the internal flow leading to preferential particle transport and subsequent morphological transitions. We present a regime map quantifying buckling & non-buckling pathways. These results may turn out to be of profound importance towards achieving desired morphological features of a colloidal droplet, by aptly tuning the confinement space, initial particle concentration, as well as the initial droplet volume. These findings may have implications in designing functionalized droplet evaporation devices for emerging engineering and biomedical applications.
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