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Published November 28, 2016 | Published
Journal Article Open

Early time instability in nanofilms exposed to a large transverse thermal gradient: Improved image and thermal analysis


Liquid nanofilms exposed to a large transverse thermal gradient undergo an instability featuring an array of nanopillars whose typical pitch is tens of microns. In earlier works, a comparison of this pitch with the fastest growing wavelength predicted by three different models based on linear instability showed closest agreement with a long wavelength thermocapillary mechanism in which gravity plays no role. Here, we present improved feature extraction techniques, which allow identification of the fastest growing wavelength at much earlier times than previously reported, and more realistic simulations for assessing thermal gradients, which better approximate the actual experimental system. While these improvements lead to better agreement with the thermocapillary mechanism, there persists a quantitative discrepancy with theory which we attribute to a number of experimental challenges.

Additional Information

© 2016 AIP Publishing LLC. (Received 20 September 2016; accepted 10 November 2016; published online 29 November 2016) This work was supported by a NASA Space Technology Research Fellowship (KRF). The authors also extend their appreciation to Dr. Euan McLeod for helpful discussions and useful notes he provided regarding the original experiments.

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