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Wedge filling, cone filling and the strong-fluctuation regime

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Publication details

JournalJournal of Physics: Condensed Matter
DatePublished - May 2001
Issue number21
Number of pages22
Pages (from-to)4591-4613
Original languageEnglish


Interfacial fluctuation effects occurring at wedge- and cone-filling transitions are investigated and shown to exhibit very different characteristics. For both geometries we argue that the conditions for observing critical (continuous) filling are much less restrictive than for critical wetting, which is known to require the fine tuning of the Hamaker constants. Wedge filling is critical if the wetting binding potential does not exhibit a local maximum, whilst conic filling is critical if the line tension is negative. This latter scenario is particularly encouraging for future experimental studies. Using mean-field and effective Hamiltonian approaches, which allow for breather-mode fluctuations which translate the interface up and down the sides of the confining geometry, we are able to completely classify the possible critical behaviours (for purely thermal disorder). For the three-dimensional wedge, the interfacial fluctuations are very strong and characterized by a universal roughness critical exponent ¿¿W = 1/4 independent of the range of the forces. For the physical dimensions d = 2 and d = 3, we show that the effect of the cone geometry on the fluctuations at critical filling is to mimic the analogous interfacial behaviour occurring at critical wetting in the strong-fluctuation regime. In particular, for d = 3 and for quite arbitrary choices of the intermolecular potential, the filling height and roughness show the same critical properties as those predicted for three-dimensional critical wetting with short-ranged forces in the large-wetting-parameter (¿>2) regime.

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