Liquid-bridge stability and breakup on surfaces with contact-angle hysteresis
We study the stability and breakup of liquid bridges with a free contact line on surfaces with contact-angle hysteresis (CAH) under zero-gravity conditions. Non-ideal surfaces exhibit CAH because of surface imperfections, by which the constraints on three-phase contact lines are influenced. Given that interfacial instabilities are constraint-sensitive, understanding how CAH affects the stability and breakup of liquid bridges is crucial for predicting the drop size in contact-drop dispensing. Unlike ideal surfaces on which contact lines are always free irrespective of surface wettability, contact lines may undergo transitions from pinned to free and vice versa during drop deposition on non-ideal surfaces. Here, we experimentally and theoretically examine how stability and breakup are affected by CAH, highlighting cases where stability is lost during a transition from a pinned–pinned (more constrained) to pinned-free (less constrained) interface—rather than a critical state. This provides a practical means of expediting or delaying stability loss. We also demonstrate how the dynamic contact angle can control the contact-line radius following stability loss.