Control of surface wettability via strain engineering
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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.
KeywordsWettability Strain engineering Molecular dynamic simulation
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