A noncontact picolitor droplet handling by photothermal control of interfacial flow

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We present a noncontact handling of droplets in a microfluidic platform by the Marangoni convection, interfacial tension driven flow, generated by a light-induced local temperature gradient in the surrounding liquid of the droplet. Droplets flowing in a microchannel experience a force due to the interfacial tension gradient when approaching the heated area. This method provides noncontact, selective and flexible manipulation for droplets flowing in microchannel network. In this study, an O/W emulsion system with oleic acid for the dispersed phase and a buffer solution for the continuous one was used. Trajectory control and trapping for droplets with 5 - 65 pL in volume was achieved by patterned laser irradiation. Also, we quantitatively evaluated the driving force exerted on droplets by measuring the fluidic temperature distribution around the droplet. From the balance of the drag force and the photo-induced Marangoni force, the driving force was determined using the measured temperature gradient of the droplet. From the results, the applicability of noncontact droplet manipulation using the photothermal Marangoni effect by continuous-phase heating has been demonstrated.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)49-55
Number of pages7
JournalAnalytical Sciences
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2016


  • Continuous phase heating
  • Droplet
  • Interfacial tension
  • Laser-induced fluorescence
  • Marangoni convection
  • Microfluidics
  • Photothermal effect

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