Mapping microscale wetting variations on biological and synthetic water-repellent surfaces

Ville Liimatainen, Maja Vuckovac, Ville Jokinen, Veikko Sariola, Matti Hokkanen, Quan Zhou, Robin Ras

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

39 Citations (Scopus)
172 Downloads (Pure)


Droplets slip and bounce on superhydrophobic surfaces, enabling remarkable functions in biology and technology. These surfaces often contain microscopic irregularities in surface texture and chemical composition, which may affect or even govern macroscopic wetting phenomena. However, effective ways to quantify and map microscopic variations of wettability are still missing, because existing contact angle and force-based methods lack sensitivity and spatial resolution. Here, we introduce wetting maps that visualize local variations in wetting through droplet adhesion forces, which correlate with wettability. We develop scanning droplet adhesion microscopy, a technique to obtain wetting maps with spatial resolution down to 10 µm and three orders of magnitude better force sensitivity than current tensiometers. The microscope allows characterization of challenging non-flat surfaces, like the butterfly wing, previously difficult to characterize by contact angle method due to obscured view. Furthermore, the technique reveals wetting heterogeneity of micropillared model surfaces previously assumed to be uniform.
Original languageEnglish
Article number1798
Pages (from-to)1-7
JournalNature Communications
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 27 Nov 2017
MoE publication typeA1 Journal article-refereed


  • Scanning droplet adhesion microscopy
  • wetting
  • superhydrophobic
  • micromanipulation
  • Robotics
  • automation


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