One of the most questionable issues in wetting is the force balance that includes the vertical component of liquid surface tension. On soft solids, the vertical component leads to a microscopic protrusion of the contact line, that is, a ‘wetting ridge’. The wetting principle determining the tip geometry of the ridge is at the heart of the issues over the past half century. Here we reveal a universal wetting principle from the ridge tips directly visualized with high spatio-temporal resolution of X-ray microscopy. We find that the cusp of the ridge is bent with an asymmetric tip, whose geometry is invariant during ridge growth or by surface softness. This singular asymmetry is deduced by linking the macroscopic and microscopic contact angles to Young and Neuman laws, respectively. Our finding shows that this dual-scale approach would be contributable to a general framework in elastowetting, and give hints to issues in cell-substrate interaction and elasto-capillary problems.
Nature Comm, 5, 4369 (2014)
Visualization of asymmetric wetting ridges on soft solids with X-ray microscopy