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Microfluidic Tensiometry Technique for the Characterization of the Interfacial Tension between Immiscible Liquids

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posted on 24.01.2018, 00:00 authored by Lawrence W. Honaker, Jan P. F. Lagerwall, V. S. R. Jampani
The interfacial tension between two immiscible fluids is of critical importance for understanding many natural phenomena as well as in industrial production processes; however, it can be challenging to measure this parameter with high accuracy. Most commonly used techniques have significant shortcomings because of their reliance on other data such as density or viscosity. To overcome these issues, we devise a technique that works with very small sample quantities and does not require any data about either fluid, based on micropipette aspiration techniques. The method facilitates the generation of a droplet of one fluid inside of the other, followed by immediate in situ aspiration of the droplet into a constricted channel. A modified Young–Laplace equation is then used to relate the pressure needed to produce a given deformation of the droplet’s radius to the interfacial tension. We demonstrate this technique on different systems with interfacial tensions ranging from sub-millinewton per meter to several hundred millinewton per meter, thus over 4 orders of magnitude, obtaining precise results in agreement with the literature solely from experimental observations of the droplet deformation.