Perpendicular alignment of the phase-separated boundary in adhered polymer droplets
We investigated the effect of the adhered interface on the phase separation pattern using two or three adhered droplets containing a binary solution of poly(ethylene glycol) and gelatin. Under the experimental conditions, single domains of the gelatin-rich phase exhibited partial wetting to the droplet adhered interface (DAI) and nonadhered droplet surface. In the case of isolated spherical droplets, the location of the phase separation interface (PSI) of the domains was completely random owing to spatial symmetry. In the adhered droplets, the random orientation of the PSI was observed when the PSI did not contact the DAI. On the other hand, when the PSI contacted the DAI, the PSI was aligned perpendicular to the DAI. Frequency analysis showed that whether the PSI contacts the DAI is purely stochastic. However, the PSI alignment perpendicular to the DAI increases significantly with three adhered droplets, suggesting that the probability increases with increasing DAI area ratio. We explain this perpendicular pattern by the minimization of the interfacial energy and kinetics with a change in the wetting contact angle. These findings will facilitate the research on the phase separation of polymer solutions inside nonspherical micrometric spaces.