Measuring the Nonuniform Evaporation Dynamics of Sprayed Sessile Microdroplets with Quantitative Phase Imaging

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We demonstrate real-time quantitative phase imaging as a new optical approach for measuring the evaporation dynamics of sessile microdroplets. Quantitative phase images of various droplets were captured during evaporation. The images enabled us to generate time-resolved three-dimensional topographic profiles of droplet shape with nanometer accuracy and, without any assumptions about droplet geometry, to directly measure important physical parameters that characterize surface wetting processes. Specifically, the time-dependent variation of the droplet height, volume, contact radius, contact angle distribution along the droplet’s perimeter, and mass flux density for two different surface preparations are reported. The studies clearly demonstrate three phases of evaporation reported previously: pinned, depinned, and drying modes; the studies also reveal instances of partial pinning. Finally, the apparatus is employed to investigate the cooperative evaporation of the sprayed droplets. We observe and explain the neighbor-induced reduction in evaporation rate, that is, as compared to predictions for isolated droplets. In the future, the new experimental methods should stimulate the exploration of colloidal particle dynamics on the gas–liquid–solid interface.

Tan Nguyen