The “coffee ring” effect is the name given to a well known observation where the evaporative drying of a drop of coffee leaves behind a ring of dark material at the edge of the original drop. On first thought one would expect that the coffee particles, which are uniformly distributed in the drop, would simply be deposited uniformly over the area wetted by the drop. It has only been in recent years that researchers have uncovered the mechanisms that produce the ring effect (Deegan, R.D., et al).
As currently understood, the edges of drops can become pinned because of roughness or chemical elements on the surface on which they lie. Heat transfer to the drops from the substrate or the air induces evaporation, which is usually greater near the drop edge. Surface tension forces then adjust the curvature of the remaining liquid consistent with the pinned edge, which results in a net flow of liquid toward the edge. This flow replenishes the evaporative loss but also moves solute to the edge where it is concentrated by evaporation. Eventually, this mechanism builds up a ring deposit of solute at the original edge of the drop.
The residue from dried drops has implications for many useful applications, including general coating processes, formation of pixel arrays of organic materials for video displays and for a variety of micro-electro-mechanical (MEMS) devices.
Because many factors control the distribution of dried residue it is desirable to have some means to model the fluid dynamics of the process to aid engineers in making the best choices for each specific application. Such a capability has been incorporated into FLOW-3D1 making it possible to computationally investigate the influence of such parameters as the initial solute concentration, fluid viscosity, volatility of the solvent, evaporation rate, surface tension and initial shape of the drop.
This technical note presents a brief description of the residue formation model and illustrates it with several computations of an evaporating drop subject to different physical conditions.