Interfacial fragmentation and electrical characterization of inkjet printed dil droplets

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference contribution


This work presents a novel mechanism for the spontaneous fragmentation of picoliter-scale oil droplets at the interface with an immiscible water phase, and the electrical characterization of the resulting immersed “daughter” droplets by an electrical impedance chip (see Figure). [1] In particular, picoliter-scale fluorinated oil droplets are produced by inkjet printing at velocity higher than 5 m/s. Upon impact on the surfactant laden water phase at moderately high Weber number , i.e. around 10, the oil droplet is subjected to spreading and capillary instabilities at the water/air interface. These ultimately lead to its rupture in smaller sized droplets, according tothe reported models for macroscale droplets, [2] for which fragmentation results in “daughter” droplets with volumes reduced of about 10-30 %. Remarkably, the picoliter scale downscaling leads to a novel surfactant-driven fragmentation due to the low Bond number - around 10^(-4) -10^(-5), the droplet immersion mainly depending on surface tension forces. Indeed, the non-ionic Polyoxyethylene (20) sorbitan monolaurate was observed to permit the droplet immersion in the water phase only if spiked in the water phase atconcentrations equal or higher than its critical micellar concentration. The emerging “daughter” droplets are characterized by a microfluidic chip with integrated microelectrodes, permitting to extract number, velocities and diameter distribution (about 3 μm) by means of electrical impedance measurements. The electrical characterizations show that the droplets have volumes in the femtoliter scale and are not subjected to inertial focusing, owing to their small size. [3] This work can be considered an important advancement for understanding the effects of downscaling on fragmentation phenomena at immiscible interfaces, leading to a knowledge platform for a tailored oil droplets fabrication applicable for drug encapsulation, pharmaceutic preparations, and thin-film wrapping around droplets.[4]Bibliography1. D. Spencer, F. Caselli, P. Bisegna and H. Morgan., Lab Chip, 2016, 16, 2467.2. H. Lhuissier, C. Sun, A. Prosperetti, and D. Lohse, Phys. Rev. Lett., 2013, 110,3. G. Arrabito, V. Errico, A. De Ninno, F. Cavaleri, V. Ferrara, B. Pignataro, and F.Caselli, Langmuir, 2019, 35, 4936.4. D. Kumar, J. D. Paulsen, T. P. Russell, N. Menon, Science, 2018, 359, 775.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationBook of Abstracts XLVII Congresso Nazionale di Chimica Fisica
Number of pages1
Publication statusPublished - 2019


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