Superconfinement tailors fluid flow at microscales.

Siti Aminah Setu, Roel P A Dullens, Aurora Hernández-Machado, Ignacio Pagonabarraga, Dirk G A L Aarts, Rodrigo Ledesma-Aguilar

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15 Scopus citations


Understanding fluid dynamics under extreme confinement, where device and intrinsic fluid length scales become comparable, is essential to successfully develop the coming generations of fluidic devices. Here we report measurements of advancing fluid fronts in such a regime, which we dub superconfinement. We find that the strong coupling between contact-line friction and geometric confinement gives rise to a new stability regime where the maximum speed for a stable moving front exhibits a distinctive response to changes in the bounding geometry. Unstable fronts develop into drop-emitting jets controlled by thermal fluctuations. Numerical simulations reveal that the dynamics in superconfined systems is dominated by interfacial forces. Henceforth, we present a theory that quantifies our experiments in terms of the relevant interfacial length scale, which in our system is the intrinsic contact-line slip length. Our findings show that length-scale overlap can be used as a new fluid-control mechanism in strongly confined systems.
Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalNature Communications
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jun 15 2015
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

KAUST Repository Item: Exported on 2020-10-01
Acknowledged KAUST grant number(s): KUK-C1-013-04
Acknowledgements: We are indebted to Denis Bartolo for a critical reading of this manuscript. R.L.-A. thanks Sumesh Thampi for useful discussions, and Somerville College (Fulford Fellowships), Marie Curie Actions (FP7-PEOPLE-IEF-2010 no. 273406) and King Abdullah University of Science and Technology (KAUST) award no. KUK-C1-013-04 for financial support. A.H.-M. acknowledges partial support from MINECO (Spain) under project FIS 2013-47949-C2-1-P and DURSI 2014 SGR878. I.P. acknowledges financial support from MINECO (Spain) and DURSI under projects FIS2011-22603 and 2009SGR-634, respectively. S.A.S. acknowledges financial support from Ministry of Higher Education Malaysia (MOHE) and Universiti Teknologi Malaysia (UTM), and D.G.A.L.A. from EPSRC grant EP/H035362/1.
This publication acknowledges KAUST support, but has no KAUST affiliated authors.


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