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Motion of Generated Dumbbell-Shaped Satellite Droplets during Liquid Dielectrophoresis

TitleMotion of Generated Dumbbell-Shaped Satellite Droplets during Liquid Dielectrophoresis
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2021
AuthorsNampoothiri, KNarayanan, Sen, P
JournalJournal of Micromechanics and Microengineering

Actuation of sub-millimeter sized droplets has important implications in heat transfer, microfluidics, and self-cleaning surfaces. Here, we report the motion of satellite droplets generated around a primary droplet actuated using liquid dielectrophoresis. Satellite droplets spanning the electrode gap grow due to the electric field induced enhanced merging of droplets. These satellite droplets attain a dumbbell shape due to the applied field. Interestingly, satellite droplets follow the main drop interface maintaining a constant gap between themselves and the main drop. The motion of satellite droplets was captured using high-speed imaging, and the role of temperature gradient was verified by measuring temperature distribution using an IR camera. Through observations and simulations, we qualitatively believe that this behavior arises from (i) repulsive electrostatic and temperature gradient forces; and (ii) attractive vapor concentration gradient forces. Simulations were used to estimate the direction of individual forces. Interfacial charges from the applied electric field give rise to the electrostatic repulsion. During liquid dielectrophoresis, the primary droplet heats due to induced current. Thermal conduction through the substrate sets up a temperate gradient, which adds to the repulsion forces between the droplets. Evaporation of the main droplet leads to the vapor concentration gradient, responsible for the attraction force between the droplets.