The use of superhydrophobic surfaces in confined flows is of particular interest as these surfaces have been shown to exhibit a drag reduction effect that is orders of magnitude larger than those due to molecular slip. In this paper we present experimental results of the pressure-driven flow of water in a parallel-plate microchannel having a no-slip upper wall and a superhydrophobic lower wall. Pressure-drop versus flow-rate measurements characterize the apparent slip behavior of the superhydrophobic surfaces with varying pillar-to-pillar pitch spacing and pillar diameter. The superhydrophobic surface consists of a square array of cylindrical pillars that are fabricated by deep reactive ion etching on silicon and coated with a hydrophobic fluoropolymer. A major challenge, in correlating our experimental results with existing theoretical predictions, is uncertainty in the location of the gas/liquid interface and the associated gas/liquid/solid contact line within the pillar features comprising the superhydrophobic surface. We present experimental results, from laser-scanning confocal microscopy, that measure the location of the gas-liquid interface and associated contact line for fluid flowing through a parallel-plate microchannel. Knowledge of the contact line location is then used to correlate experimental pressure-drop versus flow-rate data with a theoretical model based on porous-flow theory that takes into account partial penetration of liquid into a superhydrophobic surface.

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