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[Scientific Reports] Estimation of the thermocapillary force and its applications to precise droplet


Droplet control through the use of light-induced thermocapillary effects has recently garnered attention due to its non-intrusive and multifunctional nature. An important issue in droplet control is the estimation of the thermocapillary force. The purpose of the present study is to estimate the thermocapillary force and propose empirical equations between the force and simply measurable key parameters such as droplet diameter and power of heat source. In addition, we aim to shift the droplet trajectory and develop an on-demand droplet routing system based on the estimation of the thermocapillary force. We illuminated a continuous phase with a 532 nm laser beam to minimize possible damage or property changes to target molecules contained within droplets. A mixture of light-absorbing material and oleic acid was used for the continuous phase fluid, while deionized water (DI water) was used for the dispersed phase fluid. We proposed empirical equations to estimate the thermocapillary force, which was then applied to precise droplet shifting and routing. We found that the shifting distance was linearly proportional to the thermocapillary force, and that an on-demand droplet routing system resulted in a success rate greater than 95%.

By June Won, Wooyoung Lee & Simon Song Scientific Reports 7, Article number: 3062 (2017) doi:10.1038/s41598-017-03028-w

Link: https://www.nature.com/articles/s41598-017-03028-w

#06142017 #dropbasedmicrofluidics #thermocapillary #labonachip

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