Thermo-responsive copolymer coatings for flow regulation on demand in glass microcapillaries
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This study presents thermo-responsive on-demand regulation of water flow rate in glass microcapillaries with a recently developed water-stable, stimuli-responsive poly(methyl methacrylate/N-isopropyl acrylamide) [P(MMA/NIPAM)] copolymer grafted at the inner walls. It is shown that the grafted coatings are stable and can withstand significant tractions under temperature variation. Such microcapillaries allow flow regulation on demand by changing temperature across the lower critical solution temperature (LCST) of the copolymer layer, which makes it swell or shrink, thus changing the bore available for pressure-driven flow. The grafted copolymer layers were subjected to different pressure drops applied to the capillary open ends, as well as to periodic temperature variation across the copolymer LCST to determine the best grafting conditions for microfluidic operation. Then, by varying the temperature, the flow rate in the capillaries was changed periodically on demand due to the swelling/shrinkage of the grafted copolymer layer. It was also shown that the entrapped air bubbles are present in the coating which can result in an apparent slip.
KeywordsPressure Drop Slip Length Apparent Slip Copolymer Coating Isopropyl Acrylamide
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