Development of automated angle-scanning, high-speed surface plasmon resonance imaging and SPRi visualization for the study of dropwise condensation

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Department of Mechanical Engineering-Engineering Mechanics


This paper describes the fabrication and testing of a novel angle-scanning surface plasmon resonance imaging (SPRi) instrument. The combination of two stationary mirrors and two angle-controlled mirrors provides high accuracy (up to 10−3°) and high-speed angular probing. This instrument minimizes the angle-dependent image artifact that arises due to beam walk, which is the biggest challenge for the use of SPRi with angular modulation (AM). In the work described in this paper, two linear stages were employed to minimize the image artifact by adjusting the location of the angle-controlled mirrors and the camera. The SPRi instrument was used to visualize coalescence during dropwise condensation. The results show that the effect of the environment’s temperature on reflectance was less than 1% when the incident angle was carefully chosen for SPRi with intensity modulation (IM). This means that condensation visualization can be carried out at ambient temperatures, without the need for a Peltier stage or a thermally controlled condensing surface. The concept of pixel neighboring was employed to assess the probability of noise and the standard error of thin film measurement. Experimental analyses during dropwise condensation show (1) the presence of a thin film with thickness of one monolayer, and (2) surface coverage of 0.71 m2/m2 by the thin film in the area between the droplets. In addition, analyses showed the existence of a dry area at the part of the substrate exposed by coalescence to ambient air. The results of this work undermine the validity of the film rupture theory as the dropwise condensation mechanism.

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Experiments in Fluids