Microfluidic Dynamic Interfacial Tensiometry (μDIT)†
We designed, developed and characterized a microfluidic method for the measurement of surfactant adsorption kinetics via interfacial tensiometry on a microfluidic chip. The principle of the measurement is based on the deformability of droplets as a response to hydrodynamic forcing through a series of microfluidic expansions. We focus our analysis on one perfluoro surfactant molecule of practical interest for droplet-based microfluidic applications. We show that although the adsorption kinetics is much faster than the kinetics of the corresponding pendant drop experiment, our droplet-based microfluidic system has a sufficient time resolution to obtain quantitative measurement at the sub-second time-scale on nanoliter droplet volumes, leading to both a gain by a factor of ∼10 in time resolution and a downscaling of the measurement volumes by a factor of ∼1000 compared to standard techniques. Our approach provides new insight into the adsorption of surfactant molecules at liquid–liquid interfaces in a confined environment, relevant to emulsification, encapsulation and foaming, and the ability to measure adsorption and desorption rate constants.