Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


School of Materials Science and Engineering

Committee Member

Dr. Konstantin G. Kornev, Committee Chair

Committee Member

Dr. Igor Luzinov

Committee Member

Dr. Olga Kuksenok

Committee Member

Dr. Ulf D. Schiller


This Dissertation is centered on studying the wetting of complexly-shaped fibers and channels which is inspired by the Lepidopteran proboscis. From materials science and engineering standpoint, the Lepidopteran proboscis is a multifunctional microfluidic device. The unique materials organization, morphology, structure, and surface properties of the proboscis allows the Lepidopterans to feed on various food sources from highly viscous to very thin liquids while keeping its surface clean. Thus, the study on the proboscis wetting phenomena has drawn great interests of materials scientists and engineers. The shape of the Lepidopteran proboscis has a very special design combining complexly-shaped fibers and channels. However, it remains unknown how this unique shape benefits the multiple functions of the proboscis. In this Dissertation, we investigate the effect of shape on the wetting properties of proboscis by separately studying the wetting of complexly-shaped fibers and channels, and then, applying the gained knowledge to explain various wetting phenomena observed on the Lepidopteran proboscis. In Chapter I, the definition of wetting is introduced and the fundamental studies on wetting of fibers and channels are reviewed. Then the structure and function of Lepidopteran proboscis is introduced, and the motivation for conducting the research in this Dissertation is explained. In Chapter II, several wetting phenomena on the ribbon-like fiber, e.g. the morphological transitions of droplet configurations, stability of coating films, capillary rise of menisci on ribbon-like fiber, and wetting of the ribbon rail are studied experimentally and theoretically. This study sets up the foundation for investigating the wetting phenomena of other complexly-shaped fibers and channels. The developed experimental and theoretical methods are actively used throughout this Dissertation. In Chapter III, the instability of a thin coating film on the internal and external walls of a straight hollow elliptical fiber is studied, and the mechanisms of drop formation from the coating films and the droplet morphology is briefly discussed. Then the study is expanded to the ring made of a curved elliptical tube to cover a broad range of wetting phenomena associated with such complexly-shaped fibers by discussing the effect of ring radius of curvature and the cross-sectional ellipticity. In Chapter IV, a new method for studying the wetting of complexly-shaped channels is developed based on the Princen theory, and examined with the V-shaped channel. Then, the wetting/dewetting of C-shaped channel is systematically studied both experimentally and theoretically. In Chapter V, several wetting phenomena associated with the Lepidopteran proboscises, e.g. the food uptake from a pool of liquid or from a limited volume of liquid, the stability of liquid films deposited on proboscis after dipping it into a nectar source, and self-assembly of proboscis after the insect emerges from the pupa, are discussed based on the study of wetting of complexly-shaped fibers and channels. All the results are summarized in Chapter VI.



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