The microscopic details of fluid flow and heat transfer near the contact line of an evaporating extended meniscus of heptane formed between a horizontal substrate and a “washer” were studied at low heat fluxes. The film profile in the contact line region was measured using ellipsometry and microcomputer-enhanced video microscopy, which demonstrated the details of the transition between a nonevaporating superheated flat thin film and an evaporating curved film. Using the augmented Young-Laplace equation, the interfacial properties of the system were initially evaluated in situ and then used to describe the transport processes. New analytical procedures demonstrated the importance of two dimensionless parameters. Both fluid flow and evaporation depend on the intermolecular force field, which is a function of the film profile. The thickness and curvature profiles agreed with the predictions based on interfacial transport phenomena models. The heat flux distribution and the pressure field were obtained. Since there are significant resistances to heat transfer in this small system due to interfacial forces, viscous stresses, and thermal conduction, the “ideal constant heat flux” cannot be attained. The description of the pressure field gives the details of the coupling between the disjoining and capillary pressures.

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