Heterogeneous nucleation of water plays an important role in a wide range of natural and industrial processes. Though heterogeneous nucleation of water is ubiquitous and an everyday experience, spatial control of this important phenomenon is extremely difficult. Here we show for the first time that spatial control in the heterogeneous nucleation of water can be achieved by manipulating the local nucleation energy barrier and nucleation rate via the modification of the local intrinsic wettability of a surface. Such ability to control water nucleation could address the condensation-related limitations of superhydrophobic surfaces and has implications for efficiency enhancements in energy and desalination systems.

Paper: K. K. Varanasi, M. Hsu, N. Bhate, W. Yang, and T. Deng, Applied Physics Letters

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