As modern electronics continuously exceed their performance limits, there is an urgent need to develop new cooling devices that balance the increasing power demands. To meet this need, cutting-edge cooling devices often utilize microscale structures that facilitate two-phase heat transfer. However, it has been difficult to understand how microstructures trigger enhanced evaporation performances through traditional experimental methods due to low spatial resolution. The previous methods can only provide coarse interpretations on how physical properties such as permeability, thermal conduction, and effective surface areas interact at the microscale to effectively dissipate heat. This motivates researchers to develop new methods to observe and analyze local evaporation phenomena at the microscale.
Herein, we present techniques to characterize submicron to macroscale evaporative phenomena of microscale structures using micro laser induced fluorescence (μLIF). We corroborate the use of unsealed temperature-sensitive dyes by systematically investigating their effects on temperature, concentration, and liquid thickness on the fluorescence intensity. Considering these factors, we analyze the evaporative performances of microstructures using two approaches. The first approach characterizes local or overall evaporation rates by measuring the solution drying time. The second method employs an intensity-to-temperature calibration curve to convert temperature-sensitive fluorescence signals to surface temperatures. Then, submicron-level evaporation rates are calculated by employing a species transport equation for vapor at the liquid-vapor interface. Using these methods, we reveal that capillary-assisted liquid feeding dominates evaporation phenomena on microstructured surfaces. This study will enable engineers to decompose the key thermofluidic parameters contributing to the evaporative performance of microscale structures.