Indexed on: 01 Oct '08Published on: 01 Oct '08Published in: Langmuir
We visualized the detwetting of a nanometer-thick unstable liquid film on a nanotextured solid surface with a high lateral spatial resolution. The dewetting was imaged as a motion picture at a submicrometer spatial resolution and a frame rate of 4 frames/s, using ellipsometric microscopy in a vertical objective configuration. The observation revealed that the dewetting process significantly depends on the sign of the disjoining pressure Pi. When Pi is negative, the film rupture due to the spinodal dewetting proceeds to droplet formation in a single step, whereas, when Pi is positive, the film rupture due to the spinodal dewetting stops when the pressure of the thicker region balances with that of the thinner region, and then the heterogeneous grooves are nucleated and grow. The dewetting process dependence on the sign of Pi can be found in systems other than that reported here because the sign of Pi changes at the local maximum of the surface energy.