Dry microfoams: formation and flow in a confined channel
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We present an experimental investigation of the agglomeration of microbubbles into a 2D microfoam and its flow in a rectangular microchannel. Using a flow-focusing method, we produce the foam in situ on a microfluidic chip for a large range of liquid fractions, down to a few percent in liquid. We can monitor the transition from separated bubbles to the desired microfoam, in which bubbles are closely packed and separated by thin films. We find that bubble formation frequency is limited by the liquid flow rate, whatever the gas pressure. The formation frequency creates a modulation of the foam flow, rapidly damped along the channel. The average foam flow rate depends non-linearly on the applied gas pressure, displaying a threshold pressure due to capillarity. Strong discontinuities in the flow rate appear when the number of bubbles in the channel width changes, reflecting the discrete nature of the foam topology. We also produce an ultra flat foam, reducing the channel height from 250 μm to 8 μm, resulting in a height to diameter ratio of 0.02; we notice a marked change in bubble shape during the flow.
PACS.47.60.+i Flows in ducts, channels, nozzles, and conduits 83.50.Ha Flow in channels 83.80.Iz Emulsions and foams
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- D. Weaire, S. Hutzler, The physics of foams (Oxford University Press, 1999) Google Scholar