Bubbles and foams in microfluidics
Microfluidics offers great tools to produce highly-controlled dispersions of gas into liquid, from isolated bubbles to organized microfoams. Potential technological applications are manifold, from novel materials to scaffolds for tissue engineering or enhanced oil recovery. More fundamentally, microfluidics makes it possible to investigate the physics of complex systems such as foams at scales where the capillary forces become dominant, in model experiments involving few well-controlled parameters. In this context, this review does not have the ambition to detail in a comprehensive manner all the techniques and applications involving bubbles and foams in microfluidics. Rather, it focuses on particular consequences of working at the microscale, under confinement, and hopes to provide insight into the physics of such systems. The first part of this work focuses on bubbles, and more precisely on (i) bubble generation, where the confinement can suppress capillary instabilities while inertial effects may play a role, and (ii) bubble dynamics, paying special attention to the lubrication film between bubble and wall and the influence of confinement. The second part addresses the formation and dynamics of microfoams, emphasizing structural differences from macroscopic foams and the influence of the confinement.