Thermocapillary flow in glass tubes coated with photoresponsive layers
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Thermocapillary flow has proven to be a good alternative to induce and control the motion of drops and bubbles in microchannels. Temperature gradients are usually established by implanting metallic heaters adjacent to the channel or by including a layer of photosensitive material capable of absorbing radiative energy. In this work we show that single drops can be pumped through capillaries coated with a photoresponsive composite (PDMS %2b carbon nanopowder) and irradiated with a light source via an optical fiber. Maximum droplet speeds achieved with this approach were found to be ∼300 μm/s, and maximum displacements, around 120%25 of the droplet length. The heat generation capacity of the coatings was proven having either a complete coating over the capillary surface or a periodic array of pearls of the photoresponsive material along the capillary produced by the so-called Rayleigh-Plateau instability. The effect of the photoresponsive layer thickness and contact angle hysteresis of the solid-liquid interface were found to be important parameters in the photoinduced thermocapillary effect. Furthermore, a linear relationship between the optical intensity Io and droplet velocity v was found for a wide range of the former, allowing us to analyze the results and estimate response times for heat transfer using heat conduction theory. © 2014 American Chemical Society.