In situ seriate droplet coalescence under an optical force

Abstract

We demonstrated the induced coalescence of droplets under a highly accurate optical force control. Optical scattering and gradient forces were used to push and trap the droplets prior to coalescence within a microfluidic channel. The behavior of the droplets under the influence of an optical force was predicted using an analytical model that agreed well with the experimental data. The optical gradient force accelerated and decelerated the droplet within the laser beam region, and the drag force acting on the droplet was thoroughly characterized. A description of the optical trap was presented in terms of the momentum transfer from the photons to the droplet, effectively restricting droplet motion inside the microfluidic channel prior to coalescence. A phase diagram was plotted to distinguish between the three regimes of droplet coalescence, including the absence of coalescence, coalescence, and multiple coalescence events. The phase diagram permitted the laser power input and the net flow rate in the microfluidic channel to be estimated. This technique was applied to the synthesis of biodegradable gel microparticles.

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Acknowledgments

This work was supported by the Creative Research Initiatives Program (No. 2014-001493) of the National Research Foundation of Korea (MSIP).

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Correspondence to Hyung Jin Sung.

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Jin Ho Jung and Kyung Heon Lee have contributed equally to this article.

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Jung, J.H., Lee, K.H., Destgeer, G. et al. In situ seriate droplet coalescence under an optical force. Microfluid Nanofluid 18, 1247–1254 (2015). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10404-014-1522-8

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Keywords

  • Droplet coalescence
  • Optical force
  • Two-phase flow
  • Biodegradable gel
  • Droplet trapping