The hydrophobicity of a surface is defined as the degree to which it repels water molecules, and the internal contact angle that the droplet makes with the surface is a measure of the hydrophobicity. Contact angles less than 90° occur on hydrophilic surfaces, while contact angles greater than 90° occur on hydrophobic surfaces. If a surface's contact angle is greater than 120° the surface is commonly defined as superhydrophobic (SH). Superhydrophobicity is accomplished through a combination of microscale surface roughness and water repellant surface chemistry. The roughness creates cavities, or pockets, of vapor underneath the droplet which act to increase the effects of surface tension and lead to increased contact angles. The cavity fraction, F_c, of a surface is a measure of the surface roughness and is defined as the ratio of the projected cavity area to the projected total area of the surface. This thesis investigates the effects of varying cavity fraction, F_c, and substrate temperature, T_s, on heat transfer to evaporating water droplets. Distilled water droplets of nominally 3 mm in diameter were placed on heated SH substrates of varying F_c (0.5, 0.8, and 0.95). A smooth hydrophobic surface was included in the experiments for comparative purposes. The temperature of the surface was held constant at temperatures ranging from 60 to 230°C while the droplet evaporated. Measurements of droplet temperature and size were taken throughout the evaporation process using CCD and infrared camera images. These images were analyzed to yield heat transfer rates for the various surface types and surface temperatures studied. At temperatures below the saturation point of water, average droplet temperatures and heat transfer rates decrease with increasing cavity fraction. Differences in heat transfer rate between substrates increase with substrate temperature. Nusselt number decreases as cavity fraction is increased. Cavity fractions less than about 0.5 show only modest differences in Nusselt number between surfaces. As cavity fraction approaches unity, differences in Nusselt number become amplified between surfaces. At temperatures above the saturation point of water, boiling behavior on SH surfaces deviates dramatically from that of smooth untextured surfaces. Average heat transfer rates decrease with increasing cavity fraction. Nucleate boiling is delayed to highter superheats than normal or is not observed. The Liedenfrost point is advanced to lower superheats as cavity fraction is increased. Similar heat transfer rates are observed beyond the Leidenfrost point.



College and Department

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



Date Submitted


Document Type





superhydrophobic, droplet evaporation, heat transfer