Dropwise Condensation in Ambient on a Depleted Lubricant-Infused Surface

Durgesh Ranjan, Maheswar Chaudhary, An Zou, Shalabh C. Maroo

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Durability of a lubricant-infused surface (LIS) is critical for heat transfer, especially in condensation-based applications. Although LIS promotes dropwise condensation, each departing droplet condensate acts as a lubricant-depleting agent due to the formation of wetting ridge and cloaking layer around the condensate, thus gradually leading to drop pinning on the underlying rough topography. Condensation heat transfer further deteriorates in the presence of non-condensable gases (NCGs) requiring special experimental arrangements to eliminate NCGs due to a decrease in the availability of nucleation sites. To address these issues while simultaneously improving heat-transfer performance of LIS in condensation-based systems, we report fabrication of both fresh LIS and a lubricant-depleted LIS using silicon porous nanochannel wicks as an underlying substrate. Strong capillarity in the nanochannels helps retain silicone oil (polydimethylsiloxane) on the surface even after it is severely depleted under tap water. The effect of oil viscosity was investigated for drop mobility and condensation heat transfer under ambient conditions, i.e., in the presence of NCGs. While fresh LIS prepared using 5 cSt silicone oil exhibited a low roll-off angle (∼1°) and excellent water drop (5 μL) sliding velocity ∼66 mm s-1, it underwent rapid depletion as compared to higher viscosity oils. Condensation performed on depleted nanochannel LIS with higher viscosity oil (50 cSt) resulted in a heat-transfer coefficient (HTC) of ∼2.33 kW m-2 K-1, which is a ∼162% improvement over flat Si-LIS (50 cSt). Such LIS promote fast drop shedding as is evident from the little change in the fraction of drops with diameter <500 μm from ∼98% to only ∼93% after 4 h of condensation. Improvement in HTC was also seen in condensation experiments conducted for 3 days where a steady HTC of ∼1.46 kW m-2 K-1 was achieved over the last 2 days. The ability of reported LIS to maintain long-term hydrophobicity and dropwise condensation will aid in designing condensation-based systems with improved heat-transfer performance.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)21679-21689
Number of pages11
JournalACS Applied Materials and Interfaces
Issue number17
StatePublished - May 3 2023
Externally publishedYes


  • LIS
  • condensation
  • drop-distribution
  • oil-depletion
  • porous-nanochannels

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Materials Science


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