Electronic Thesis and Dissertation Repository


Doctor of Philosophy


Electrical and Computer Engineering


K. Adamiak

2nd Supervisor

G.S.P Castle

Joint Supervisor


Controlling transport phenomena in liquid and gaseous media through electrostatic forces has brought new important scientific and industrial applications. Although numerous EHD applications have been explored and extensively studied so far, the fast-growing technologies, mainly in the semiconductor industry, introduce new challenges and demands. These challenges require enhancement of heat transfer and mass transport in small scales (sometimes in molecular scales) to remove highly concentrated heat fluxes from reduced size devices. Electric field induced flows, or electrohydrodynamics (EHD), have shown promise in both macro and micro-scale devices.

Several existing problems in EHD heat transfer enhancements were investigated in this thesis. Enhancement of natural convection heat transfer through corona discharge from an isothermal horizontal cylindrical tube at low Rayleigh numbers was studied experimentally and numerically. Due to the lack of knowledge about local heat transfer enhancements, Mach-Zehnder Interferometer (MZI) was used for thermal boundary layer visualization. For the first time, local Nusselt numbers were extracted from the interferograms at different applied voltages by mapping the hydrodynamic and thermal field results from numerical analysis into the thermal boundary layer visualizations and local heat transfer results.

A novel EHD conduction micropump with electrode separations less than 300 µm was fabricated and investigated experimentally. By scaling down the pump, the operating voltage was reduced one order of magnitude with respect to macro-scale pumps. The pumping mechanism in small-scales was explored through a numerical analysis. The measured static pressure generations at different applied voltages were predicted numerically.

A new electrostatically-assisted technique for spreading of a dielectric liquid film over a metallic substrate was proposed. The mechanism of the spreading was explained through several systematic experiments and a simplified theoretical model. The theoretical model was based on an analogy between the Stefan’s problem and current problem. The spreading law was predicted by the theoretical approach and compared with the experimental results.

Since the charge transport mechanism across the film depends on the thickness of the film, by continuing the corona discharge exposure, the liquid film becomes thinner and thinner and both hydrodynamic and charge transport mechanisms show a cross-over and causes different regimes of spreading. Four different regimes of spreading were identified. For the first time, an electrostatically accelerated molecular film (precursor film) was reported.

The concept of spreading and interfacial pressure produced by a corona discharge was applied to control an impacting dielectric droplet on non-wetting substrate. For the first time, the retraction phase of the impact process was actively suppressed at moderate corona discharge voltages. At higher corona discharge strengths, not only was the retraction inhibited but also the spreading phase continued as if the surface was a wetting surface.