Abstract

The molecular dynamics (MD) method is employed to simulate thermal bubble nucleation processes confined in graphene nanochannels. It is found that nucleation sites depend strongly on the different solid-liquid interfacial properties in various systems. In this work, the thermal bubble nucleates on the graphene surface, on which the interaction between liquid molecules and channel wall is weak relatively. It is demonstrated that the hydrophobic surface would make thermal bubble to initiate easier. A conceptual design about surface wettability gradient was proposed, which can break the equilibrium state of a bubble and induce its unidirectional movement on the surface. Moreover, MD simulation showed that through a continuous gradient of surface wettability, the direction of movement is under control. These findings provide us with a method in device design for applications of self-controlling motion of bubble down to nanoscale and other wettability-enabled actuators.

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