It is considered that, after a water drop contacts the base of a roughness groove, water should immediately fill this roughness groove. Subsequently, Cassie-Baxter wetting state is transited to that of Wenzel. Accordingly, one of the criteria used to judge the transition from Cassie-Baxter to Wenzel states is whether a water drop has contact with the base of a roughness groove. In this work, through theoretical and experimental investigations, we show that this transition criterion does not always hold true in the case of microchannels. We first theoretically prove that, when an angle criterion is satisfied, there may exist an intermediate wetting state inside a microchannel after a water drop contacts the bottom of the microchannel. In this wetting state, water does not completely fill the microchannel, and air pockets still exist in its bottom corners. Also, the wetting state is stable in the sense that its energy state is lower than that of the Wenzel model. According to the angle criterion, such intermediate states may exist, for example, in microchannels with vertical sidewalls, when contact angles on the inner surfaces of these microchannels are larger than 135°. In addition to microchannels, the aforementioned intermediate state may also exist on a single corner (which is formed by a horizontal plate and an inclined plate), when the angle criterion is met. After theoretical modeling, we then conduct four types of tests on single corners and microchannels to validate the angle criterion. In these tests, once the angle criterion is met, stable intermediate states are observed on the corresponding samples. In addition, it is found from the two types of tests conducted on microchannels that, once Laplace pressure inside a water drop is gradually reduced, such an intermediate wetting state may be transited back to the original Cassie-Baxter state. On the other hand, the Wenzel state may not have such a reversal transition unless an additional force is applied to overcome energy barrier between Wenzel and Cassie-Baxter states.
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