Roughness dependent wettability of sputtered copper thin films: The effect of the local surface slope

Farnaz Foadi, Gert H. ten Brink, Mohammad Reza Mohammadizadeh, George Palasantzas*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

15 Citations (Scopus)
123 Downloads (Pure)


Here, we investigated the static and the dynamic wetting behaviors of copper (Cu) thin films deposited by DC magnetron sputtering. The deposited films have random rough surfaces for which the rms roughness amplitude

sigma, the lateral correlation length

xi, and the roughness exponent

alpha were obtained from the analysis of height topography images acquired by atomic force microscopy. The time-dependent height-height correlation functions indicated anomalous kinetic roughening with roughness exponents alpha approximate to 0.9 and evolving roughness parameters

sigma and

xi with deposition time. The latter yields a nonstationary local surface slope

sigma / xi that has a crucial impact on the surface wettability. Indeed, static and dynamic contact angles' (CAs) measurements revealed two wetting regimes associated with different growth stages leading to a transition from a metastable Cassie-Baxter to a Wenzel-like state for the roughest films. Moreover, the increasing roughness with well distributed peaks and valleys leads to increasing CAs due to trapped air in surface cavities, while after some point the larger surface features lead to a decrement of the CAs that vary only slightly with further roughening. Although the apparent wetting transition with increasing surface roughness is not favored by the local Laplace pressure estimation, the energy of the system decreases with surface roughening, or equivalently increasing local surface slope, favoring energetically a Wenzel state. Under these conditions, the water droplet can spontaneously fill the surface cavities once the impregnation is initiated by the hydrophilic nature of the surface, in agreement with our experiments for significantly large local surface slopes rho (>0.1) and large roughness exponents alpha similar to 1.

Original languageEnglish
Article number244307
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of Applied Physics
Issue number24
Publication statusPublished - 28-Jun-2019



Cite this