Recently there have appeared multiscale lotus-leaf-like superhydrophobic surfaces that can enhance dropwise condensation in well-tailored supersaturation conditions. However, designs of most biomimetic surfaces were not driven by the understanding of underlying physical mechanisms. We report energy-based analysis of growth dynamics of condensates from surface cavities. As observed in condensation experiments, these textured surfaces with two tier roughness are superior to flat or solely nanotextured surfaces in spatial control of condensate droplets. To understand the role of condensate state transition in enhancing condensation heat transfer, we considered adhesion energy, viscous dissipation and contact line dissipation as the main portion of resistant energy that needs to be overcome by the condensates formed in surface cavities. By minimizing the energy barrier associated with the self-pulling process, we optimized first tier roughness on the hierarchically textured surfaces allowing condensates to grow preferentially in the out-of-plane direction. The nano-roughness of the second tier plays an important role in abating the adhesion energy in the cavities and contact line pinning. From the perspective of molecular kinetic theory, the dual scale engineered surface is beneficial to remarkably mitigating contact line dissipation. This study indicates that scaling down surface roughness to submicron scale can facilitate self-propelled condensate removal.

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