Novel pillar formation in evaporating poly(ethylene oxide) droplets
Unlike the familiar “ring-stain" formed when spilt coffee drops are left to dry, liquids containing high molecular weight polymer molecules leave a range of other deposit pat terns. In this thesis I observe that aqueous solutions of the polymer poly(ethylene oxide) (PEO) dries to form either the common coffee-ring stain, flat uniform “pancakes", or tall central “pillars". To investigate this phenomenon, I varied experimental factors including: atmospheric temperature, humidity and pressure; polymer molecular weight and concentration; water-ethanol solvent ratios; droplet volume, contact angle and inclination. These factors indicate a region in parameter-space in which central pillars form, favouring fast drying, low temperature, high contact angle, high concentration, high or low (but not intermediate) water-ethanol ratio, and intermediate molecular weight. I identify four stages in the pillar forming drying process, including a pseudo-dewetting liquid stage which appears to be driven by the formation of a contracting spherulite collar around the droplet's 3-phase contact line.