Evolution of Thin-Liquid Films Surrounding Bubbles in Microfluidics and Their Impact on the Pressure Drop and Fluid Movement

Cong Chao, Xiaoqiang Jin, Xianfeng Fan*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract / Description of output

The evolution of thin-liquid films in a microchannel is one of the most critical and intricate phenomena to understand two-phase movement, evaporation, micromixing, heat transfer, chemical synthesis, biological processes, and efficient energy devices. In this paper, we demonstrate experimentally the effect of a liquid film on the removal of an initially dry and lodged bubble in laser-etched poly(methyl methacrylate) microfluidic networks and discuss the evolution of the liquid film in accordance with the bubble superficial velocity and the effect of liquid properties and branch angle on the evolution of the liquid film and the pressure drop. During the removal of a dry bubble, four stages have been observed in the bubble velocity profile and they directly relate to the evolution of the liquid film. The correlation of maximum bubble velocity has been derived as a function of bubble length, fluid viscosity, surface tension, geometry of the cross-sectional area, and dimensions of the microchannel and agrees with the experimental results. The bubble moving distance required for the full deposition of a continuous and stable thin-liquid film is affected by the liquid viscosity and network branch angle. The liquid with a higher viscosity will increase the pressure drop for removing dry bubbles from microfluidic networks, while this effect will be hampered by increasing the microfluidic network complexity. The deposition of the thin-liquid film surrounding bubbles significantly decreases the pressure drop required to remove bubbles from microfluidics. Compared with deionized water, the glycerol solution is prone to acting as the lubricating liquid due to its strong H-bond interaction with the channel wall and the reduction in interfacial energy of the gas–water interface.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)15102–15111
Number of pages9
Issue number49
Early online date6 Dec 2020
Publication statusPublished - 15 Dec 2020


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