Mass transfer accompanying coalescence of surfactant-laden and surfactant-free drop in a microfluidic channel

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Colleges, School and Institutes


The coalescence of two different drops, one surfactant-laden and the other surfactant-free, was studied under the condition of confined flow in a microchannel. The coalescence was accompanied by penetration of the surfactant-free drop into the surfactant-laden drop due to difference in the capillary pressure and Marangoni flows causing a film of surfactant-laden liquid to spread over the surfactant-free drop. The penetration rate was dependent upon the drop order, with considerably better penetration observed for the case when the surfactant-laden drop goes first. Penetration rate was found to increase with an increase of interfacial tension difference between the two drops, an increase of flow rate and drop confinement in the channel (for the case of the surfactant-laden drop going first), an increase of viscosity of the continuous phase and a decrease of viscosity of the dispersed phase. Analysis of flow patterns inside the coalescing drops has shown that, unlike coalescence of identical drops, only two vortices are formed by asymmetrical coalescence, centred inside the surfactant-free drop. The vortices were accelerated by the flow of the continuous phase if the surfactant-laden drop preceded the surfactant-free one, increasing the rate of penetration; the opposite was observed if the drop order was reversed. The mixing patterns on a longer time scale were also dependent upon the drop order with better mixing being observed for the case when the surfactant-laden drop goes first.


Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)9184-9193
Issue number28
Early online date21 Jun 2019
Publication statusPublished - 16 Jul 2019


  • drop microfluidics, soluble surfactant, coalescence kinetics, mixing kinetics, Marangoni flow, Ghost Particle Velocimetry