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Separation of Floating Oil Drops Based on Drop-Liquid Substrate Interfacial Tension

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posted on 01.08.2019, 12:36 by Thamarasseril Vijayan Vinay, Subramanyan Namboodiri Varanakkottu
Though various strategies exist for the transport of oil drops suspended on a liquid substrate, selective manipulation of different kinds of drops based on their respective characteristics remains a challenge. In practice, it is possible to have multiple drops having different wetting states with the liquid substrate, whose separation is desired. In this work, we exploit curvature-induced capillary forces for the selective manipulation (transport as well as separation) of oil droplets based on their interfacial tension (IFT) with the underlying liquid substrate. To demonstrate this, we have selected two oils having different IFTs with the aqueous liquid substrate and tuned their curvature-induced capillary interaction (inward or outward from the source) by controlled addition of the surfactant. We experimentally realize three droplet manipulation regimes: repulsion, attraction, and separation regime. In the repulsion and attraction regimes, both the drops behave in a similar manner. Strikingly, in the separation regime, drops can be effectively separated based on their IFT; low IFT droplets are attracted toward the source, while high IFT droplets do the reverse.