A colloidal suspension is a small constituent of insoluble solid particles suspended in a liquid medium. Control over the wetting, evaporation, and deposition patterns left by colloidal suspensions is valuable in many biological, medical, industrial, and agricultural applications. Understanding the governing principles of wetting and evaporative phenomena of these colloidal suspensions may lead to greater control over resultant deposition patterns. Perhaps the most familiar pattern forms when an initially heterogeneous colloidal suspension leaves a dark ring pattern at the edge of a drop. This pattern is referred to as a coffee-stain and it can be seen from dried droplets of spilled coffee. This coffee-stain effect was first investigated by Deegan et. al. who discovered that these patterns occur when outward radial flows driven by evaporation at the triple contact line dominate over other effects.

While the presence of coffee-stain patterns is undesirable in many printing and medical diagnostic processes, it can also be advantageous in the production of low cost transparent conductive films, the deposition of metal vapor, and the manipulation of biological structures. Controlling the interactions between the substrate, liquid, vapor, and particles can lead to control over the size and morphology of evaporative deposition patterns left by aqueous colloidal suspensions. Several methods have been developed to control the evaporation of colloidal suspensions to either suppress or enhance the coffee stain effect. Electrowetting on Dielectric (EWOD) is one promising method that has been used to control colloidal depositions by applying either an AC or DC electric field. EWOD actuation has the potential to dynamically control colloidal deposition left by desiccated droplets to either suppress or enhance the coffee stain effect. It may also allow for independent control of the fluidic interface and deposition of particles via electrowetting and electrokinetic forces. Implementation of this technique requires that the colloidal droplet be separated from the active electrode by a dielectric layer to prevent electrolysis. A variety of polymer layers have been used in EWOD devices for a variety of applications. In applications that involve desiccation of colloidal suspensions, the material for this layer should be chosen carefully as it can play an important role in the resulting deposition pattern.

An experimental method to monitor the transient evolution of the shape of an evaporating colloidal droplet and optically quantify the resultant deposition pattern is presented. Unactuated colloidal suspensions will be desiccated on a variety of substrates commonly used in EWOD applications. Transient image profiles and particle deposition patterns are examined for droplets containing fluorescent micro-particles. Qualitative and quantitative comparisons of these results will be used to compare multiple different cases in an effort to provide insight into the effects of polymer selection on the drying dynamics and resultant deposition patterns of desiccated colloidal materials.

It was found that the equilibrium and receding contact angles between the surface and the droplet play a key role in the evaporation dynamics and the resulting deposition patterns left by a desiccated colloidal suspension. The equilibrium contact angle controls the initial contact diameter for a droplet of a given volume. As a droplet on a surface evaporates, the evolution of the interface shape and the contact diameter can generally be described by three different regimes. The Constant Contact Radius (CCR) regime occurs when the contact line is pinned while the contact angle decreases. The Constant Contact Angle (CCA) regime occurs when the contact line recedes while the contact angle remains constant. The Mixed regime occurs when the contact radius and angle both reduce over time. The presence of the CCA regime allows the contact line to recede creating a more uniform deposition. However, not all droplets move into the CCA regime. Some remain in the CCR regime creating a coffee-stain pattern. In order to transition into the CCA regime, the dynamic contact angle of the droplet must be reduced to an angle close to the receding contact angle.

Transient interface shapes and deposition patterns were examined on four surfaces: (i) Glass, (ii) Kapton HN polyimide tape, (iii) SU-8 3005, and (iv) Teflon AF. Glass has a low equilibrium contact angle and a very low receding contact angle resulting in a large uniform coffee-stain deposition. Kapton HN and SU-8 3005 have similar equilibrium contact angles that result in similar initial contact diameters. However, Kapton HN pins at that initial diameter due to a low receding contact angle producing a smaller more intense coffee-stain. SU-8 3005 has a large receding contact angle that allows for the transition into the CCA regime which results in a smaller, more uniform, and more intense spot. Teflon AF has the largest equilibrium and receding contact angle producing the smallest, most uniform, and most intense spot. Results presented here suggest that a lower receding contact angle is beneficial in areas where the coffee-stain effect needs to be enhanced while a larger receding contact angle is beneficial in areas where the coffee-stain needs to be suppressed.

Preliminary results are also presented examining droplets actuated via AC electrowetting to examine the effect of electrode geometry and applied voltage on electrowetting behavior and colloidal depositions in these cases. It was found that the Young-Lippmann equation needs to be modified to satisfy the modified capacitance per unit area of a system with different electrode geometries.

Library of Congress Subject Headings

Colloids--Electric properties; Microfluidics; Wetting; Evaporation

Publication Date


Document Type


Student Type


Degree Name

Mechanical Engineering (MS)

Department, Program, or Center

Mechanical Engineering (KGCOE)


Michael Schertzer

Advisor/Committee Member

Michael Schrlau

Advisor/Committee Member

Blanca Lapizco-Encinas


Physical copy available from RIT's Wallace Library at QD549 .D86 2015


RIT – Main Campus

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