Depletion attraction impairs the plasticity of emulsions flowing in a constriction†
We study the elasto-plastic behavior of dense attractive emulsions under a mechanical perturbation. The attraction is introduced through non-specific depletion interactions between the droplets and is controlled by changing the concentration of surfactant micelles in the continuous phase. We find that such attractive forces are not sufficient to induce any measurable modification on the scalings between the local packing fraction and the deformation of the droplets. However, when the emulsions are flowed through 2D microfluidic constrictions, we uncover a measurable effect of attraction on their elasto-plastic response. Indeed, we measure higher levels of deformation inside the constriction for attractive droplets. In addition, we show that these measurements correlate with droplet rearrangements that are spatially delayed in the constriction for higher attraction forces.