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Issue 10, 2018
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Feedback control of photoresponsive fluid interfaces

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Abstract

Photoresponsive surfactants provide a unique microfluidic driving mechanism. Since they switch between two molecular shapes under illumination and thereby affect surface tension of fluid interfaces, Marangoni flow along the interface occurs. To describe the dynamics of the surfactant mixture at a planar interface, we formulate diffusion–advection–reaction equations for both surfactant densities. They also include adsorption from and desorption into the neighboring fluids and photoisomerization by light. We then study how the interface responds when illuminated by spots of light. Switching on a single light spot, the density of the switched surfactant spreads in time and assumes an exponentially decaying profile in steady state. Simultaneously, the induced radial Marangoni flow reverses its flow direction from inward to outward. We use this feature to set up specific feedback rules, which couple the advection velocities sensed at the light spots to their intensities. As a result two neighboring spots switch on and off alternately. Extending the feedback rule to light spots arranged on the vertices of regular polygons, we observe periodic switching patterns for even-sided polygons, where two sets of next-nearest neighbors alternate with each other. A triangle and pentagon also show regular oscillations, while heptagon and nonagon exhibit irregular oscillations due to frustration. While our findings are specific to the chosen set of parameters, they show how complex patterns at photoresponsive fluid interfaces emerge from simple feedback coupling.

Graphical abstract: Feedback control of photoresponsive fluid interfaces

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Publication details

The article was received on 25 Oct 2017, accepted on 23 Dec 2017 and first published on 19 Feb 2018


Article type: Paper
DOI: 10.1039/C7SM02101A
Citation: Soft Matter, 2018,14, 1856-1869
  • Open access: Creative Commons BY-NC license
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    Feedback control of photoresponsive fluid interfaces

    J. Grawitter and H. Stark, Soft Matter, 2018, 14, 1856
    DOI: 10.1039/C7SM02101A

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      [Original citation] - Published by The Royal Society of Chemistry (RSC) on behalf of the European Society for Photobiology, the European Photochemistry Association, and RSC.
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      [Original citation] - Published by The Royal Society of Chemistry.

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