Despite the practical need, no models exist to predict contact angles or wetting mode of surfactant solutions on rough hydrophobic or superhydrophobic surfaces. Using Gibbs' adsorption equation and a literature isotherm, a new model is constructed based on the Wenzel and Cassie equations. Experimental data for aqueous solutions of sodium dodecyl sulfate (SDS) contact angles on smooth Teflon surfaces are fit to estimate values for the adsorption coefficients in the model. Using these coefficients, model predictions for contact angles as a function of topological f (Cassie) and r (Wenzel) factors and SDS concentration are made for different intrinsic contact angles. The model is also used to design/tune surface responses. It is found that: (1) predictions compare favorably to data for SDS solutions on five superhydrophobic surfaces. Further, the model predictions can determine which wetting mode (Wenzel or Cassie) occurred in each experiment. The unpenetrated or partially penetrated Cassie mode was the most common, suggesting that surfactants inhibit the penetration of liquids into rough hydrophobic surfaces. (2) The Wenzel roughness factor, r, amplifies the effect of surfactant adsorption, leading to larger changes in contact angles and promoting total wetting. (3) The Cassie solid area fraction, f, attenuates the lowering of contact angles on rough surfaces. (4) The amplification/attenuation is understood to be due to increased/decreased solid–liquid contact-area.
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