Micro magnetofluidics: droplet manipulation of double emulsions based on paramagnetic ionic liquids†
The ability to control and manipulate discrete fluid droplets by magnetic fields offers new opportunities in microfluidics. A surfactant-free and easy to realize technique for the continuous generation of double emulsion droplets, composed of an organic solvent and a paramagnetic ionic liquid, is applied. The inner phase of the emulsion droplet consists of imidazolium-based ionic liquids with either iron, manganese, nickel or dysprosium containing anions which provide paramagnetic behaviour. The double emulsion droplets are dispersed in a continuous phase of FC-40. All substances – the organic phase, the paramagnetic ionic liquid and the continuous phase –are immiscible. The magnetic properties of ionic liquids allow, through the influence of external magnetic fields, the manipulation of individual emulsion droplets such as capture and release, rotation and distortion. Arrays of magnets allow a coalescence of emulsion droplets and their subsequent mixing by flowing through an alternating permanent magnetic field. In addition, the double emulsion droplets can be split and reunified, or continuously separated into their original phases.