Sustainability of the plastron on nano-grass-covered micro-trench superhydrophobic surfaces in high-speed flows of open water


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This paper studies the sustainability of plastrons on superhydrophobic (SHPo) surfaces made of longitudinal micro-trenches covered by nano-grass with the main interest on hydrodynamic friction drag reduction in high-speed flows of open water, which represent the operating conditions of common watercraft. After revising the shear-driven drainage model to address the air diffusion for SHPo surfaces, the existing theories are combined to reveal the trends of how the immersion depth, air saturation level and shear stress affect the maximum attainable plastron length. Deviations from the theories by the dynamic effect at the two ends of the trench, the interfacial contaminations and turbulent fluctuation are also discussed. A combinatorial series of well-defined SHPo trench surfaces (4 cm x 7 cm in size with varying trench widths, depths, lengths and roughnesses) is microfabricated and attached underneath a 4 m long motorboat on seawater in turbulent flows up to 7.2m s(-1) (shear rate similar to 83 000 s(-1) and friction Reynolds number similar to 5500). Because the plastron can provide a substantial slip only while its air-water interfaces are pinned (or only slightly depinned) at the trench top, two underwater cameras are employed to differentiate the pinned (and slightly depinned) interfaces from the depinned (and no) interfaces. In addition to achieving pinned plastrons on 6 cm long trenches aligned to high-speed flows in open water, the experimental results corroborate the theoretical estimations, supporting the design of SHPo surfaces for field applications.
drag reduction, MEMS/NEMS, contact lines
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