Direct imaging of complex nano- to microscale interfaces involving solid, liquid, and gas phases

Konrad Rykaczewski, Trevan Landin, Marlon L. Walker, John Henry J. Scott, Kripa K. Varanasi

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

90 Scopus citations


Surfaces with special wetting properties not only can efficiently repel or attract liquids such as water and oils but also can prevent formation of biofilms, ice, and clathrate hydrates. Predicting the wetting properties of these special surfaces requires detailed knowledge of the composition and geometry of the interfacial region between the droplet and the underlying substrate. In this work we introduce a 3D quantitative method for direct nanoscale visualization of such interfaces. Specifically, we demonstrate direct nano- to microscale imaging of complex fluidic interfaces using cryostabilization in combination with cryogenic focused ion beam milling and SEM imaging. We show that application of this method yields quantitative information about the interfacial geometry of water condensate on superhydrophilic, superhydrophobic, and lubricant-impregnated surfaces with previously unattainable nanoscale resolution. This type of information is crucial to a fundamental understanding as well as the design of surfaces with special wetting properties.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)9326-9334
Number of pages9
JournalACS nano
Issue number10
StatePublished - Oct 23 2012
Externally publishedYes


  • complex nanostructures
  • cryo-FIB/SEM
  • lubricant-impregnated surfaces
  • nanoscale water condensation
  • superhydrophobicity

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Materials Science
  • General Engineering
  • General Physics and Astronomy


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