Despite many years of intensive research, the modeling of contact lines moving by spreading and/or evaporation still remains a subject of debate nowadays, even for the simplest case of a pure liquid on a smooth and homogeneous horizontal substrate. In addition to the inherent complexity of the topic (singularities, micro-macro matching, intricate coupling of many physical effects, …), this also stems from the relatively limited number of studies directly comparing theoretical and experimental results, with as few fitting parameters as possible. In this presentation, I will address various related questions, focusing on the physics invoked to regularize singularities at the microscale, and discussing the impact this has at the macroscale. Two opposite “minimalist” theories will be detailed: i) a classical paradigm, based on the disjoining pressure in combination with the spreading coefficient; ii) a new approach, invoking evaporation/condensation in combination with the Kelvin effect (dependence of saturation conditions upon interfacial curvature). Most notably, the latter effect enables resolving both viscous and thermal singularities altogether, without needing any other regularizing effects such as disjoining pressure, precursor films or slip length. Experimental results are also presented about evaporation-induced contact angles, to partly validate the first approach, although it is argued that reality might often lie in between these two extreme cases.
- Industrial and Applied Mathematics Seminar