To understand the effects of inhomogeneous drying on the quality of polymer coatings, an experimental setup to resolve the occurring flow field throughout the drying film has been developed. Deconvolution microscopy is used to analyze the flow field in 3D and time. Since the dimension of the spatial component in the direction of the line-of-sight is limited compared to the lateral components, a multi-focal approach is used. Here, the beam of light is equally distributed on up to five cameras using cubic beam splitters. Adding a meniscus lens between each pair of camera and beam splitter and setting different distances between each camera and its meniscus lens creates multi-focality and allows one to increase the depth of the observed volume. Resolving the spatial component in the line-of-sight direction is based on analyzing the point spread function. The analysis of the PSF is computational expensive and introduces a high complexity compared to traditional particle image velocimetry approaches. A new algorithm tailored to the parallel computing architecture of recent graphics processing units has been developed. The algorithm is able to process typical images in less than a second and has further potential to realize online analysis in the future. As a prove of principle, the flow fields occurring in thin polymer solutions drying at ambient conditions and at boundary conditions that force inhomogeneous drying are presented.
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Cavadini, P., Weinhold, H., Tönsmann, M. et al. Investigation of the flow structure in thin polymer films using 3D µPTV enhanced by GPU. Exp Fluids 59, 61 (2018). https://doi.org/10.1007/s00348-017-2482-z