A low-cost, non-invasive phase velocity and length meter and controller for multiphase lab-in-a-tube devices†
Opportunities for accessible microfluidic device integration have sharply grown with the rise of readily available lab-in-a-tube strategies. Herein, we present a facile, non-invasive, plug-and-play phase velocity and length measuring strategy for rapid deployment onto tube-based microfluidic systems, enabling quick and accurate residence (reaction) time measurement and tuning. Our approach utilizes inexpensive off-the-shelf optical phase sensors and requires no prior knowledge of the fluid composition or physical properties. Compared to camera-based measurements in fluoropolymer tubing, the optical phase sensor-based technique shows mean absolute percentage errors of 1.3% for velocity and 3.3% for length. Utilizing the developed multiphase flow monitoring technique, we screen the accessible parameter space of gas–liquid segmented flows. To further demonstrate the functionality of this process monitoring strategy, we implement two feedback controllers to establish simultaneous setpoint control for phase velocity and length. Next, to showcase the effectiveness and versatility of the developed multiphase flow process controller, we apply it to systematic studies of the effect of liquid slug velocity (controlling precursor mixing timescale) on the colloidal synthesis of cesium lead tribromide nanocrystals. By varying the liquid slug velocity and maintaining constant precursor composition, liquid slug length, and residence time, we observe a bandgap tunability from 2.43 eV (510 nm) to 2.52 eV (494 nm).