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Exploiting transient phenomena for imaging with breath figures

TitleExploiting transient phenomena for imaging with breath figures
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2017
AuthorsSasikumar, H, Varma, MM
JournalApplied Physics Letters

Breath figures refer to the patterns formed when vapor condenses into the liquid phase on a surface, revealing heterogeneities in topography or chemical composition. These figures are composed of micro-droplets, which scatter light and produce optical contrast. Differences in hydrophobicity imposed by surfacefeatures or contaminants result in a difference in micro-droplet densities, which has been used in applications such as substrate independent optical visualization of single layer graphene flakes. Here, we show that transient phenomena, such as the pinning transition of micro-droplets condensed over a polymer surface, can be used to enhance the optical contrast even when the time averaged difference in micro-droplet densities is not substantial. Thus, this work opens a new way of visualizing surface heterogeneities using transient phenomena occurring during condensation or evaporation of micro-droplets as opposed to only using time averaged differences in wettability due to the surface features.