Surface charge printing for programmed droplet transport

Qiangqiang Sun, Dehui Wang, Yanan Li, Jiahui Zhang, Shuji Ye, Jiaxi Cui, Longquan Chen, Zuankai Wang, Hans Jürgen Butt, Doris Vollmer, Xu Deng

Research output: Journal article publicationLetterpeer-review

262 Citations (Scopus)


The directed, long-range and self-propelled transport of droplets on solid surfaces is crucial for many applications from water harvesting to bio-analysis1–9. Typically, preferential transport is achieved by topographic or chemical modulation of surface wetting gradients that break the asymmetric contact line and overcome the resistance force to move droplets along a particular direction10–16. Nonetheless, despite extensive progress, directional droplet transport is limited to low transport velocity or short transport distance. Here we report the high-velocity and ultralong transport of droplets elicited by surface charge density gradients printed on diverse substrates. We leverage the facile water droplet printing on superamphiphobic surfaces to create rewritable surface charge density gradients that stimulate droplet propulsion under ambient conditions17 and without the need for additional energy input. Our strategy provides a platform for programming the transport of droplets on flat, flexible and vertical surfaces that may be valuable for applications requiring a controlled movement of droplets17–19.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)936-941
Number of pages6
JournalNature Materials
Issue number9
Publication statusPublished - 1 Sep 2019
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Chemistry(all)
  • Materials Science(all)
  • Condensed Matter Physics
  • Mechanics of Materials
  • Mechanical Engineering


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