Controlled drop emission by wetting properties in driven liquid filaments;

R. Ledesma-Aguilar, R. Nistal, A. Hernández-Machado, I. Pagonabarraga

The controlled formation of micrometre-sized drops is of great importance to many technological applications 1, 2, 3, 4, 5. Here we present a wetting-based destabilization mechanism of forced microfilaments on either hydrophilic or hydrophobic stripes that leads to the periodic emission of droplets. The drop emission mechanism is triggered above the maximum critical forcing at which wetting, capillarity, viscous friction and gravity can balance to sustain a stable driven contact line. The corresponding critical filament velocity is predicted as a function of the static wetting angle, which can be tuned through the substrate behaviour, and shows a strong dependence on the filament size. This sensitivity explains the qualitative difference in the critical velocity between hydrophilic and hydrophobic stripes, and accounts for previous experimental results of splashing solids6. We demonstrate that this mechanism can be used to control independently the drop size and emission period, opening the possibility of highly monodisperse and flexible drop production techniques in open microfluidic geometries.

Nature Materials, Vol. 10 pp. 367-371 (2011)



R. Ledesma-Aguilar, R. Nistal, A. Hernández-Machado, I. Pagonabarraga



 Superconfinement tailors fluid flow at micro-scales;

S. A. Setu, R. P. A. Dullens, A. Hernández-Machado, I. Pagonabarraga, D. G. A. L. Aarts, and R. Ledesma-Aguilar

Understanding fluid dynamics under extreme confinement, where device and intrinsic fluid length scales become comparable, is essential to successfully develop the coming generations of fluidic devices. Here we report measurements of advancing fluid fronts in such a regime, which we dub superconfinement. We find that the strong coupling between contact-line friction and geometric confinement gives rise to a new stability regime where the maximum speed for a stable moving front exhibits a distinctive response to changes in the bounding geometry. Unstable fronts develop into drop-emitting jets controlled by thermal fluctuations. Numerical simulations reveal that the dynamics in superconfined systems is dominated by interfacial forces. Henceforth, we present a theory that quantifies our experiments in terms of the relevant interfacial length-scale, which in our system is the intrinsic contact-line slip length. Our findings show that length-scale overlap can be used as a new fluid-control mechanism in strongly confined systems.

Nature Communications, Vol. 6 pp. 7297 - (2015)



 Theory of wetting-induced fluid entrainment by advancing contact lines on dry surfaces;

R. Ledesma-Aguilar, A. Hernández-Machado, and I. Pagonabarraga

We report on the onset of fluid entrainment when a contact line is forced to advance over a dry solid of arbitrary wettability. We show that entrainment occurs at a critical advancing speed beyond which the balance between capillary, viscous, and contact-line forces sustaining the shape of the interface is no longer satisfied. Wetting couples to the hydrodynamics by setting both the morphology of the interface at small scales and the viscous friction of the front. We find that the critical deformation that the interface can sustain is controlled by the friction at the contact line and the viscosity contrast between the displacing and displaced fluids, leading to a rich variety of wetting-entrainment regimes. We discussthe potential use of our theory to measure contact-line forces using atomic force microscopy and to study entrainment under microfluidic conditions exploiting colloid-polymer fluids of ultralow surface tension.

Physical Review Letters, Vol. 110. 2013.