Acta Mechanica Sinica

, Volume 29, Issue 4, pp 543–549 | Cite as

Control of surface wettability via strain engineering

  • Wei Xiong
  • Jefferson Zhe LiuEmail author
  • Zhi-Liang Zhang
  • Quan-Shui ZhenEmail author
Research Paper


Reversible control of surface wettability has wide applications in lab-on-chip systems, tunable optical lenses, and microfluidic tools. Using a graphene sheet as a sample material and molecular dynamic simulations, we demonstrate that strain engineering can serve as an effective way to control the surface wettability. The contact angles θ of water droplets on a graphene vary from 72.5° to 106° under biaxial strains ranging from −10% to 10% that are applied on the graphene layer. For an intrinsic hydrophilic surface (at zero strain), the variation of θ upon the applied strains is more sensitive, i.e., from 0° to 74.8°. Overall the cosines of the contact angles exhibit a linear relation with respect to the strains. In light of the inherent dependence of the contact angle on liquid-solid interfacial energy, we develop an analytic model to show the cos θ as a linear function of the adsorption energy E ads of a single water molecule over the substrate surface. This model agrees with our molecular dynamic results very well. Together with the linear dependence of E ads on biaxial strains, we can thus understand the effect of strains on the surface wettability. Thanks to the ease of reversibly applying mechanical strains in micro/nano-electromechanical systems, we believe that strain engineering can be a promising means to achieve the reversibly control of surface wettability.


Wettability Strain engineering Molecular dynamic simulation 


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Copyright information

© The Chinese Society of Theoretical and Applied Mechanics; Institute of Mechanics, Chinese Academy of Sciences and Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Engineering Mechanics and Center for Nano and Micro MechanicsTsinghua UniversityBeijingChina
  2. 2.Department of Mechanical and Aerospace EngineeringMonash UniversityClaytonAustralia
  3. 3.Department of Structural EngineeringNorwegian University of Science and Technology (NTNU)TrondheimNorway

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