Abstract

The surface of a nonwetting droplet is separated from a solid surface by a continuous supply of a lubricating gas film within the apparent contact region. Under certain conditions, e.g., application of an external excitation force, the gas film thickness can decrease to a level where intermolecular forces cause the droplet to wet the surface. The thickness of the lubricating film can be measured by interferometry. Externally imposed oscillations change the shape of the film, leading to dynamic interference fringes that are recorded with a high-speed CCD camera. We propose a spatiotemporal analysis of the interference patterns based on the regularized phase-tracker method. This well-known method minimizes a cost function to estimate the absolute phase of a single element in the interferogram. A proper scanning method along all elements of the interferogram is necessary to avoid phase estimation errors that will propagate throughout the entire continuous phase image of interest. The scanning method we propose traces along contours of constant phase in the interferogram and does not require segmentation of the interferogram in dark and bright fringes. Results in the form of dynamic height profiles of droplets under excitation obtained by this method are presented.

© 2005 Optical Society of America

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