Damena Agonafer, a mechanical engineer and materials scientist in the McKelvey School of Engineering at Washington University in St. Louis, is perfecting a way to dissipate the heat through a unique process involving tiny liquid drops on top of an array of micropillars.
Agonafer worked with droplets of different liquids on micropillar structures of different shapes: triangles, squares, and circles. The drops on the tops of the micropillars are similar to when a glass of water is overfilled just enough to make a hemispheric shape, or a meniscus, on the top of the glass before one more drop causes it to spill over.
Agonafer found that the shape of the micropillar made a difference in the amount of liquid it held before the droplets spilled over. The work provides insight into the design of surface micro- and nanoengineered structures in science and engineering.
Agonafer and his lab are now working to optimize the shape and the pattern of the micropillars on an array toward developing an evaporative heat exchange device.