There is significant interest in reducing the frictional resistance that occurs along a surface in contact with a liquid. A novel approach to reducing the frictional resistance across a liquid-solid interface is the use of superhydrophobic surfaces. superhydrophobic surfaces are created in this work by the use of micro-fabrication techniques where systematic roughness is fabricated on a substrate surface which is subsequently treated with a hydrophobic coating. This work reports an experimental study of superhydrophobic surfaces used to reduce drag in both laminar and turbulent channel flows. In the laminar flow regime reductions in frictional resistance greater than 55% were measured in microchannels consisting of superhydrophobic walls. The reduction in frictional resistance for laminar flow in microchannels with superhydrophobic walls was shown to be dependent on the rib/cavity orientation, with greater reduction achieved when the ribs/cavities were aligned parallel with the direction of the flow. Also, the ratio of the cavity width to the combined rib/cavity pitch and the ratio of the combined rib/cavity pitch to the microchannel hydraulic diameter exercise influence on the frictional resistance. The condition when the flowing liquid was allowed to completely "wet" the cavities was also explored. Generalized expressions enabling prediction of the classical friction factor-Reynolds number product as a function of the relevant governing parameters were also developed. The influence of superhydrophobic surfaces in turbulent flow was explored in macrochannels using particle imaging velocimetry (PIV). For the turbulent flow regime the time-averaged velocity profiles revealed no discernible slip velocity at the superhydrophobic wall. However, the results did show that the superhydrophobic surfaces exhibits an influence on the streamwise and wall-normal turbulence intensities, the turbulent shear stress, the total shear stress distributions, and the turbulence production in the channel. From the total shear stress distributions in the channel the coefficient of friction at the channel walls was determined. The results showed that for the superhydrophobic surface with ribs and cavities oriented parallel to the flow direction a reduction in the coefficient of friction as high as 16% was achieved compared to a smooth wall channel. Superhydrophobic surfaces with ribs and cavities oriented transverse to the flow direction showed a modest increase in the coefficient of friction. Differential pressure measurements in the turbulent flow channel were also acquired and used to calculate the channel average friction factor.



College and Department

Ira A. Fulton College of Engineering and Technology; Mechanical Engineering



Date Submitted


Document Type





microchannels, superhydrophobic, macrochannels, reduced, frictional, resistance, microfluidics, surfaces, hydrophobic, drag, reduction, PIV