Electrorotation of particle-coated droplets: from fundamentals to applications†
Electrically insulating objects immersed in a weakly conducting liquid may Quincke rotate when subjected to an electric field. Experimental and theoretical investigations of this type of electrorotation typically concern rigid particles and particle-free droplets. This work provides the basic features of electric field-induced rotation of particle-covered droplets that expand the current knowledge in this area. Compared to pure droplets, we show that adding particles to the droplet interface considerably changes the parameters of electrorotation. We study in detail deformation magnitude (D), orientation (β) and rotation rate (ω) of a droplet subjected to a DC E-field. Our experimental results reveal that both the critical electric field (for electrorotation) and the rotational rate depend on droplet size, particle shell morphology (smooth vs. brush-like), and composition (loose vs. locked particles). We also demonstrate the importance of the electrical parameters of the surface particles by comparing the behavior of droplets covered by (insulating) polymeric particles and droplets covered by (non-ohmic) clay mineral particles. The knowledge acquired from the electrorotation experiments is directly translated into practical applications: (i) to form arrested droplets with shells of different permeability; (ii) to study solid-to-liquid transition of particle shells; (iii) to mix particles on shells; and (iv) to increase the formation efficiency of Pickering emulsions.