Toward vanishing droplet friction on repellent surfaces

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Superhydrophobic surfaces are often seen as frictionless materials, on which water is highly mobile. Understanding the nature of friction for such water-repellent systems is central to further minimize resistance to motion and energy loss in applications. For slowly moving drops, contact-line friction has been generally considered dominant on slippery superhydrophobic surfaces. Here, we show that this general rule applies only at very low speed. Using a micropipette force sensor in an oscillating mode, we measure the friction of water drops approaching or even equaling zero contact-line friction. We evidence that dissipation then mainly stems from the viscous shearing of the air film (plastron) trapped under the liquid. Because this force is velocity dependent, it can become a serious drag on surfaces that look highly slippery from quasi-static tests. The plastron thickness is found to be the key parameter that enables the control of this special friction, which is useful information for designing the next generation of ultraslippery water-repellent coatings.
Original languageEnglish
Article numbere2315214121
Pages (from-to)e2315214121
JournalProceedings of the National Academy of Sciences
Issue number17
Publication statusPublished - 15 Apr 2024
MoE publication typeA1 Journal article-refereed


  • drop friction
  • superhydrophobic
  • wetting


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