The growth and departure of single bubbles on two surfaces with very different wettability is studied using high-speed video microscopy and numerical simulation. Isolated artificial cavities of approximately 10μm diameter are microfabricated on a bare and a Teflon-coated silicon substrate to serve as nucleation sites. The bubble departure diameter is observed to be almost three times larger and the growth period almost 60 times longer for the hydrophobic surface than for the hydrophilic surface. The waiting period is practically zero for the hydrophobic surface because a small residual bubble nucleus is left behind on the cavity from the previous ebullition cycle. The experimental results are consistent with our numerical simulations. Bubble nucleation occurs on nominally smooth hydrophobic regions with root mean square roughness (Rq) less than 1 nm even at superheat as small as 3 °C. Liquid subcooling significantly affects bubble growth on the hydrophobic surface due to increased bubble surface area. Fundamental understanding of bubble dynamics on heated hydrophobic surfaces will help to develop chemically patterned surfaces with enhanced boiling heat transfer and novel phase-change based micro-actuators and energy harvesters.

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