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Dynamics of a nanodroplet under a transmission electron microscope
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We investigate the cyclical stick-slip motion of water nanodroplets on a hydrophilic substrate viewed with and stimulated by a transmission electron microscope. Using a continuum long wave theory, we show how the electrostatic stress imposed by non-uniform charge distribution causes a pinned convex drop to deform into a toroidal shape, with the shape characterized by the competition between the electrostatic stress and the surface tension of the drop, as well as the charge density distribution which follows a Poisson equation. A horizontal gradient in the charge density creates a lateral driving force, which when sufficiently large, overcomes the pinning induced by surface heterogeneities in the substrate disjoining pressure, causing the drop to slide on the substrate via a cyclical stick-slip motion. Our model predicts step-like dynamics in drop displacement and surface area jumps, qualitatively consistent with experimental observations.
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