Deterioration of boiling heat transfer on biphilic surfaces under very low pressures

Biao Shen, Tomosuke Mine, Naoki Iwata, Sumitomo Hidaka, Koji Takahashi, Yasuyuki Takata

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

10 Citations (Scopus)


Surface wettability engineering has attracted growing attention in recent years as an effective tool to enhance boiling heat transfer. On wettability-patterned (so-called biphilic) surfaces in particular, subatmospheric boiling has been shown to be nearly free of the severe degradation of heat transfer rate that tends otherwise to prevail on plain surfaces. The surprisingly consistent performance under reduced-pressure conditions can be attributed to the rather strong pinning of the three-phase contact line (TPCL) at the border between the hydrophobic and hydrophilic surfaces, which essentially eliminates the waiting period between bubble cycles. Only when the pressure is decreased sufficiently low does the transition to the undesired mode of intermittent boiling eventually occur on the biphilic surface. The purpose of the present study is to investigate the physical mechanism for the heat transfer deterioration on a mixed-wettability surface at very low pressures. To that end, we performed high-speed visualization experiments of the process of bubble nucleation and growth on a smooth copper surface coated with a single hydrophobic polytetrafluoroethylene (PTFE) spot, under different surface superheats and system pressures. The results show an interesting correlation between the TPCL behavior and the bubble growth dynamics. Specifically, under some certain threshold of pressure, it would become increasingly likely for the TPCL to be dislodged from its pinned position on the biphilic surface under a particularly rapid bubble expansion. As a result, full flooding of the hydrophobic surface might ensue, which is deemed responsible for temporary deactivation of the hydrophobic spot as a viable nucleation site. Furthermore, based on the diffuse-interface simulations of TPCL propagation across heterogeneous wettabilities, a comparison of cases with different bubble expansion rates offered qualitative evidence supporting the critical role of such accelerated bubble growth rate in driving the TPCL to overcome the energy barrier raised at the wettability divide.

Original languageEnglish
Article number110026
JournalExperimental Thermal and Fluid Science
Publication statusPublished - May 1 2020

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Chemical Engineering(all)
  • Nuclear Energy and Engineering
  • Aerospace Engineering
  • Mechanical Engineering
  • Fluid Flow and Transfer Processes


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