Dielectrophoretic control of a droplet at the interface of two liquids in a three-liquid system


The influence of an electric field on a water droplet resting at the interface of two immiscible liquids is studied experimentally and theoretically. The droplet is initially in a state of equilibrium due to the balance between gravitational, buoyancy and capillary forces. Application of an electric field across the droplet-interface system disturbs the equilibrium. The electrical force increases the immersion angle of the droplet and eventually causes it to ‘sink’ when a critical immersion angle is reached.

Experiments are conducted with a deionized water droplet, resting at the interface of silicone oil and sunflower oil. Experiments involve the application of an electric field and image analysis to track the voltage dependent immersion angle. The objective is to determine the threshold voltage at which the droplet sinks. Experiments are complemented by an analytical model that balances gravity, buoyancy, capillary, and dielectrophoretic forces to predict the change in the position of the droplet and the immersion angle. Experiments and analysis were conducted for Bond numbers ranging from 0.1 to 1.7, the latter being the critical size at which a droplet will ‘sink’ due to its weight. The predicted immersion angles and threshold voltage show a good match to the experimental measurements. Overall, this work highlights the utility of electric fields to control interfacial phenomena at the interface of two immiscible liquids.

ASME 2018 International Mechanical Engineering Congress and Exposition
Manojkumar Lokanathan
Manojkumar Lokanathan
Research Scientist in Thermal Fluids Sciences

Manoj is a research scientist at C-Crete Technologies and has a doctorate from the University of Texas at Austin. His research expertise encompasses the fields of power electronics management, two-phase flow, thermal sciences, microfluidics, emulsion chemistry, surface sciences and machine learning.