Haobo Xu, a senior undergraduate student from the University of Michigan – Shanghai Jiao Tong University Joint Institute (UM-SJTU JI, JI hereafter) has published a research paper titled “Droplets attraction and coalescence mechanism on textured oil-impregnated surfaces” in Nature Communications, a high-quality multidisciplinary journal covering many areas of natural sciences including physics, chemistry, earth sciences, medicine, and biology.

The Polymerization Process of Liquid Droplets on Oil Wetted Surface

Under the guidance of Professor Solomon Adera from the University of Michigan, Haobo Xu conducted research into the process of droplet coalescence on oil-impregnated surfaces. Utilizing high-speed cameras, he analyzed the various stages of droplet coalescence, dividing the process into three phases: droplet attraction, oil displacement, and droplet merging. The research explores the potential applications of oil-impregnated surfaces, a concept introduced in 2011, consisting of a base plane with micro-nanostructures and a thin film of oil overlay. Water droplets on these surfaces exhibit high mobility, suggesting potential uses in reducing friction and preventing biofouling.

“From the inception of this project to the final publication, I experienced the entire process of discovering and explaining the problem, gaining a deeper understanding of scientific research. Looking back on the past two years of research experience, I feel that the path of research is quite arduous, and the balance between input and output is often challenging to achieve. However, the excitement and joy of achieving results or understanding the mechanisms behind phenomena are unforgettable,” said Xu who serves as the first author of the paper published by Nature Communications recently.

Haobo Xu is a JI senior student pursuing a dual-degree program in collaboration with UM. He is expected to graduate in August with two bachelor’s degrees in Mechanical Engineering from SJTU and in Aerospace Engineering from UM respectively. Upon graduation, he is planning to pursue a doctoral degree in Materials Science and Engineering at Cornell University in the United States.