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Issue 24, 2012
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Effects of nanoparticles and surfactant on droplets in shear flow

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We present three-dimensional numerical simulations, employing the well-established lattice Boltzmann method, and investigate similarities and differences between surfactants and nanoparticles as additives at a fluid–fluid interface. We report on their respective effects on the surface tension of such an interface. Next, we subject a fluid droplet to shear and explore the deformation properties of the droplet, its inclination angle relative to the shear flow, the dynamics of the particles at the interface, and the possibility of breakup. Particles are seen not to affect the surface tension of the interface, although they do change the overall interfacial free energy. The particles do not remain homogeneously distributed over the interface, but form clusters in preferred regions that are stable for as long as the shear is applied. However, although the overall structure remains stable, individual nanoparticles roam the droplet interface, with a frequency of revolution that is highest in the middle of the droplet interface, normal to the shear flow, and increases with capillary number. We recover Taylor's law for small deformation of droplets when surfactant or particles are added to the droplet interface. The effect of surfactant is captured in the capillary number, but the inertia of adsorbed massive particles increases deformation at higher capillary number and eventually leads to easier breakup of the droplet.

Graphical abstract: Effects of nanoparticles and surfactant on droplets in shear flow

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Article information

27 Jan 2012
07 Apr 2012
First published
18 May 2012

Soft Matter, 2012,8, 6542-6556
Article type

Effects of nanoparticles and surfactant on droplets in shear flow

S. Frijters, F. Günther and J. Harting, Soft Matter, 2012, 8, 6542
DOI: 10.1039/C2SM25209K

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