Universal spreading of water droplets on complex surfaces

B.B.J. Stapelbroek, H.P. Jansen, Ernst S. Kooij, Jacobus Hendrikus Snoeijer, A.C.A. Eddi

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31 Citations (Scopus)


A drop of water spreads very rapidly just after it is gently deposited on a solid surface. Here we experimentally investigate how these early stages of spreading are influenced by different types of surface complexity. In particular, we consider micro-textured substrates, chemically striped substrates and soft substrates. For all these complex substrates, it is found that there always exists an inertial regime where the radius r of the wetted area grows as r ∼ t1/2. For perfectly wetting substrates, this regime extends over several decades in time, whereas we observe a deviation from a pure power-law for partially wetting substrates. Our experiments reveal that even the cross-over from the 1/2 power law to the final equilibrium radius displays a universal dynamics. This cross-over is governed only by the final contact angle, regardless of the details of the substrate.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2641-2648
Number of pages8
JournalSoft matter
Issue number15
Publication statusPublished - 10 Jan 2014


  • METIS-303528
  • IR-94864


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