Case 14467

Method of Visualizing and Manipulating Liquid Droplets in an Environmental Scanning Electron Microscope


ESEM, contact line, hysteresis, droplet roll-off, hydrophobic materials, superhydrophobic materials, Cassie droplet


Environmental scanning electron microscopes (ESEM), optical imaging, microscopes, cameras

  • Difficult to image contact line of superhydrophobic droplets
  • Limited flexibility in the control of droplet position
  • Coarse resolution (>50μm)


This invention proposes a novel apparatus and method for visualizing and manipulating droplets of liquids as they come into contact with surfaces as viewed with an environmental scanning electron microscope (ESEM) and environmental microscopes in general. It provides a means for positioning an isolated liquid droplet on a surface of interest within the chamber of an ESEM allowing for the imaging of sub-micron features of the droplet's contact line as it moves across the surface as well as measuring condensation heat flux to the surface.

  • Flexible positioning of apparatus with respect to imaging column of the ESEM
  • Flexible positioning of the droplet supporting structure with respect to the apparatus
  • Temperature control to prevent significant evaporation at microscope operating pressure
  • Direct measurement of heat flux to surface
  • Fine resolution (<1μm)


Intellectual Property:

US Patent application 61/420396 on December 7, 2010



Last revised: January 31, 2011

>>List of MIT Energy IP<<