We show that thermocapillary-induced droplet motion is markedly enhanced when using lubricant-impregnated surfaces as compared to solid substrates. These surfaces provide weak pinning, which makes them ideal for droplet transportation and specifically for water transportation. Using a lubricant with viscosity comparable to that of water and temperature gradients as low as 2 K/mm, we observe that drops can propel at 6.5 mm/s, that is, at least 5 times quicker than reported on conventional substrates. Also in contrast with solids, the liquid nature of the different interfaces makes it possible to predict quantitatively the thermocapillary Marangoni force (and velocity) responsible for the propulsion.

Paper: Nada Bjelobrk, Henri-Louis Girard, Srinivas Bengaluru Subramanyam, Hyuk-Min Kwon, David Quéré, and Kripa K. Varanasi, Physical Review Fluids

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