Droplet formation in microfluidic cross-junctions

Haihu Liu, Yonghao Zhang

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Using a lattice Boltzmann multiphase model, three-dimensional numerical simulations have been performed to understand droplet formation in microfluidic cross-junctions at low capillary numbers. Flow regimes, consequence of interaction between two immiscible fluids, are found to be dependent on the capillary number and flow rates of the continuous and dispersed phases. A regime map is created to describe the transition from droplets formation at a cross-junction (DCJ), downstream of cross-junction to stable parallel flows. The influence of flow rate ratio, capillary number, and channel geometry is then systematically studied in the squeezing-pressure-dominated DCJ regime. The plug length is found to exhibit a linear dependence on the flow rate ratio and obey power-law behavior on the capillary number. The channel geometry plays an important role in droplet breakup process. A scaling model is proposed to predict the plug length in the DCJ regime with the fitting constants depending on the geometrical parameters.
Original languageEnglish
Article number082101
Number of pages12
JournalPhysics of Fluids
Issue number8
Early online date4 Aug 2011
Publication statusPublished - Sep 2011


  • microfluidics
  • lattice Boltzmann model
  • droplet formation
  • flow regime
  • cross-junctions

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