Spontaneous propulsion of a water nanodroplet induced by a wettability gradient: a molecular dynamics simulation study†
The directional propulsion of liquid droplets at the nanoscale is quite an interesting topic of research in the fields of micro/nano-fluidics, water filtration, precision medicine, and cooling of electronics. In this study, the unidirectional spontaneous transport of a water nanodroplet on a solid surface with a multi-gradient surface (MGS) inspired by natural species is modeled and analyzed using molecular dynamics (MD) simulations. There are three different MGSs considered in this study containing different wedge angles of the hydrophilic region of the solid surface. The MGSs contain two regions: a hydrophilic wedge-shaped region with a constant surface energy parameter equal to 50 meV and a hydrophobic region with a tuned surface energy parameter. The energy parameter of the hydrophobic region is set equal to 1, 5, 10, 20, 30, and 40 meV in order to alter the intensity of the wettability gradient of the two surfaces and its effect on the propulsion of the water nanodroplet is analyzed. Furthermore, three different sizes of water droplets containing 6000, 8000, and 10 000 water molecules are also used in this study and their effect on the transport behavior of the water nanodroplet is also measured. Moreover, two different designs on a solid surface with a continuous wettability gradient are modelled and the impact of solid surface geometry on the transport of the water droplet is calculated by means of mean square displacement (MSD) and average velocity data. In addition, the wedge-shaped surface is found to be more superior to the parallel-shaped surface for the spontaneous propulsion of the water droplet.