An “off-the-shelf” capillary microfluidic device that enables tuning of the droplet breakup regime at constant flow rates†
The fabrication of glass capillary microfluidic devices is technically challenging, often hampering use of the design. We describe a new technique, based on commercially available components, for assembling flow focusing capillary devices that can readily be taken apart and cleaned between uses. This design strategy allows for generation of both water-in-oil and oil-in-water emulsions in the same device after an ethanol rinse. The modularity of the device enables the adjustment of the tip separation between the two inner capillaries during droplet generation, which enables tuning of the age of the interface. Time-dependent surfactant diffusion to the interface changes the interfacial tension, thus providing an approach for adjusting the capillary number in addition to the usual method of changing flow rates. This design enables the tuning of the mode of breakup and the droplet size.