Pressure and thermal effects on superhydrophobic friction reduction in a microchannel flow



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As the fluidic devices are miniaturized to improve portability, the friction of the microchannel becomes intrinsically high and a high pumping power will be required to drive the fluid. Since the pumping power delivered by portable devices is limited, one method to reduce this is to render the surface to become slippery. This can be achieved by roughening up the microchannel wall and form a bed of air pockets between the roughness elements, which is known as the superhydrophobic Cassie-Baxter state. While the study on superhydrophobic microchannels are focused mainly in maximizing the friction reduction effects and maintaining the stability of the air pockets, less attention has been given to characterizing the microchannel friction under a metastable state, where partial flooding of the micro-textures may be present, and under heated conditions, where the air pockets are trapped between the micro-textures. In order to quantify the frictional characteristics, microchannels with micron-sized trenches on the side walls were fabricated and tested under varying inlet pressures and heating conditions. By measuring the hydrodynamic resistance and comparing with numerical simulations, results suggest that (1) the air-water interface behaves close to a no-slip boundary condition, (2) friction becomes insensitive to the wetting degree once the micro-trenches become highly wetting, (3) the fully wetted micro-trench may be beneficial over the de-wetted ones in order to achieve friction reduction effects and (4) heating the micro-trenches to induce a highly de-wetting state may actually be detrimental to the microchannel flow due the excessive growth of the air layer. As part of the future work to characterize heat transfer in superhydrophobic microchannels, a rectangular microchannel with microheaters embedded close to the side walls was fabricated and the corresponding heat transfer rates were measured through dual fluorescence thermometry. Results suggested that significant heat is lost through the environment despite the high thermal resistance of the microchannel material. An extra insulation is suggested prior to characterizing the convective heat transfer coefficients in the superhydrophobic microchannel flow.