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Nanoliter-Droplet Breakup in Confined T-Shaped Junctions

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Nanoliter-droplet breakup in either symmetrically or asymmetrically confined T-shaped junctions is experimentally studied. The critical condition with which nanoliter droplets will break equally is theoretically analyzed based on the pressure-driven mechanism. The scaling analysis is experimentally confirmed, implying that the droplet breakup in a confined T-shaped junction is a pressure-driven process when the capillary number is less than ∼0.1. A semi-empirical correlation is obtained for predicting the equal breakup in symmetric T-shaped junctions. The critical condition is found to be dependent on the initial droplet length, channel depth and capillary number. Besides the equal breakup of nanoliter droplets, a new droplet breakup pattern, unequal breakup, is observed in the symmetric T-shaped junction. In asymmetric T-shaped junctions the nanoliter-droplet breakup is found to be very difficult.

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Keywords: Nanoliter droplet; capillary number; confined T-shaped junction; critical condition; droplet breakup; flow stability; interfacial tension; microchannels; microfluidics; scaling analysis

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: June 1, 2011

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