The present work deals with the microfluidic evolution of capillary surfaces that are formed during the priming of microcavity structures with a non-wetting liquid. Due to the large contact angle of the priming liquid, a trapping of air within the microcavities poses a major impediment to a complete filling. We tackle this issue by developing a two-dimensional analytical model describing the geometrical shape of capillary surfaces formed in microcavity structures. In particular, the model is employed to derive two quantitative conditions for a void-free priming of a microcavity structure in terms of its aspect ratio, rounding parameters and the channel width. Microfluidic experiments are performed to verify the analytical results. Finally, we make use of the model to demonstrate a pressure-driven aliquoting of a non-wetting sample liquid in a flow chamber with an array of 55 microcavities by introducing a second immiscible liquid acting as a sealant. In this way, our work constitutes a basis for the design of microcavity-based liquid aliquoting structures that are used in various fields of application like PCR arrays, cell culture chips or digital reaction arrays.
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Podbiel, D., Zengerle, R. & Hoffmann, J. An analytical model for void-free priming of microcavities. Microfluid Nanofluid 24, 16 (2020). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10404-020-2318-7
- Capillary surface
- Void-free priming
- Dead-end structure
- Liquid aliquoting
- Hydrophobic surface
- Geometric multiplexing