Sessile droplets on deformable substrates

Wetting of deformable substrates has gained significant interest over the past decade due to a multiplicity of industrial and biological applications. Technological advances in the area of interfacial science have given rise to the ability to capture interfacial behavior between a liquid droplet and an elastic substrate. Researchers have developed several theories to explain the interaction between the two phases and describe the process of wetting of deformable/soft substrates. A summary of the most recent advances on static wetting of deformable substrates is given in this review. It is demonstrated that action of surface forces (disjoining/conjoining pressure) near the apparent three-phase contact line should be considered. Any consideration of equilibrium droplets on deformable (as well as on non-deformable) substrates should be based on consideration of the excess free energy of the system. The equilibrium shapes of both droplet and deformable substrate should correspond to the minimum of the excess free energy of the system. It has never been considered in the literature that the obtained equilibrium profiles must satisfy sufficient Jacobi’s condition. If Jacobi’s condition is not satisfied, it is impossible to claim that the obtained solution really corresponds to equilibrium. In recently published studies, equilibrium of droplets on deformable substrates: (1) provided a solution that corresponds to the minimum of the excess free energy; and (2) the obtained solution satisfies the Jacobi’s condition. Based on consideration of disjoining/conjoining pressure acting in the vicinity of the apparent three-phase contact line, the hysteresis of contact angle of sessile droplets on deformable substrates is considered. It is shown that both advancing and receding contact angles decrease as the elasticity of the substrate is increased and the effect of disjoining/conjoining pressure is discussed. Fluid inside the droplet partially wets the deformable substrate. It is shown that just these forces coupled with the surface elasticity determine the deformation of the deformable substrates.