Link to Pubmed [PMID] – 19358521
Langmuir 2009 May;25(9):5127-34
The localized heating produced by a tightly focused infrared laser leads to surface tension gradients at the interface of microfluidic drops covered with surfactants, resulting in a net force on the drop whose origin and magnitude are the focus of this paper. First, by colocalization of the surfactant micelles with a fluorescent dye, we demonstrate that the heating alters their spatial distribution, driving the interface out of equilibrium. This soluto-capillary effect opposes and overcomes the purely thermal dependence of the surface tension, leading to reversed interfacial flows. As the surface of the drop is set into motion, recirculation rolls are created outside and inside the drop, which we measure using time-resolved micro-Particle Image Velocimetry. Second, the net force produced on the drop is measured using an original microfluidic design. For a drop 300 microm-long and 100 microm-wide, we obtain a force of 180 nN for a laser power of 100 mW. This micro-dynanometer further shows that the magnitude of the heating, which is determined by the laser power and its absorption in the water, sets the magnitude of the net force on the drop. On the other hand, the dynamics of the force generation is limited by the time scale for heating, which has independently been measured to be tau(Theta) = 4 ms. This time scale sets the maximum velocity that the drops can have and still be blocked, by requiring that the interface passes the laser spot in a time longer than tau(Theta). The maximum velocity is measured at U(max) = 0.7 mm/s for our geometric conditions. Finally, a scaling model is derived that describes the blocking force in a confined geometry as the result of the viscous stresses produced by the shear between the drop and the lateral walls.