Interacting viscous instabilities in microfluidic systems
We discuss the formation, evolution, and stability of microfluidic flows involving two or more miscible fluids that have different viscosities. When two liquids that have widely different viscosities are injected into a rigid microfluidic device, their flow streams can naturally rearrange to form lubricated threads or stratified flows depending on the geometry and history of injection. An overview of two-fluid and three-fluid flow configurations in microchannels having square cross-sections is given for a variety of injection geometries. Miscible viscous fluid threads in confined microsystems can experience a range of viscous instabilities, such as folding and swirling. We show that microfluidics can be used to cause two or more instabilities to interact and co-evolve in diverging microchannels, thereby creating a variety of complex flow patterns.
- This article is part of the themed collection: Soft matter principles of microfluidics.