Scanning Droplet Tribometer – Rapid evaluation of surface properties

Aalto University / Mika Latikka

Scanning Droplet Tribometry is a novel measurement technique for rapid evaluation of surface characteristics, such as wetting properties, coating homogeneity and contamination. The technique is based on scanning the surface with a magnetically controlled droplet.

How it works

Scanning droplet tribometer scans the sample with a magnetically actuated droplet to measure surface properties. The test droplet contains a tiny amount of magnetic particles, which render it controllable with magnetic field, without affecting the properties of the carrier liquid (typically water).

Surface properties are measured by evaluating the interaction between the droplet and the sample. The instrument is suitable for characterization of hydrophobic and even superhydrophobic surfaces.


  • Fast evaluation of local surface characteristics, such as wetting properties, coating defects and contamination
  • Tunable sensitivity makes the method suitable for a wide range of surfaces
  • Non-contact droplet actuation allows measurements of difficult geometries, such as inner surfaces of tubes
  • Automated 2D mapping:


  • Quality assessment:
    Automated surface scanning allows fast and easy assessment of your product quality, leading to faster identification of production problems and fewer product returns. Scanning Droplet Tribometer is also suitable for in-line quality assessment.
  • R&D:
    Fast and precise measurement of surface properties leads to efficient R&D cycles.
  • Evaluation of coating homogeneity
  • Corrosion detection
  • Identification of wetting defects on water-repellent materials
  • Detection of contamination:
    Even small traces of contamination on a surface affect droplet movement.
  • Scanning of difficult geometries:
    Translucent tubes, pipes, pipette tips etc.
Sensitivity of the Scanning droplet tribometer can be tuned with the amount of magnetic particles in the test droplet. Aalto University / Vivien Lefranc & Mika Latikka
Non-contact magnetic actuation allows measuring inside translucent tubes, which is not possible with conventional measuring techniques. Aalto University / Mika Latikka