Drops contained in an immiscible liquid phase are attractive as microreactors, enabling sound statistical analysis of reactions performed on ensembles of samples in a microfluidic device. Many applications have specific requirements for the values of local shear stress inside the drops and, thus, knowledge of the flow field is required. This is complicated in commonly used rectangular channels by the flow of the continuous phase in the corners, which also affects the flow inside the drops. In addition, a number of chemical species are present inside the drops, of which some may be surface-active. This work presents a novel experimental study of the flow fields of drops moving in a rectangular microfluidic channel when a surfactant is added to the dispersed phase. Four surfactants with different surface activities are used. Flow fields are measured using Ghost Particle Velocimetry, carried out at different channel depths to account for the 3-D flow structure. It is shown that the effect of the surfactant depends on the characteristic adsorption time. For fast-equilibrating surfactants with a characteristic time scale of adsorption that is much smaller than the characteristic time of surface deformation, this effect is related only to the decrease in interfacial tension, and can be accounted for by the change in capillary number. For slowly equilibrating surfactants, Marangoni stresses accelerate the corner flow, which changes the flow patterns inside the drop considerably.
Bibliographical noteFunding Information:
This research was funded by the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council, UK, through the PREMIERE Programme Grant EP/T000414/1.
© 2021 by the authors. Licensee MDPI, Basel, Switzerland.
- Aqueous/oil interface
- Characteristic adsorption time
- Corner flow
- Drop microfluidics
- Flow pattern
- Langmuir isotherm parameters
- Multiphase flow
- Rectangular channel
- Sur-factant dynamics
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Chemistry (miscellaneous)
- Colloid and Surface Chemistry