As an air bubble translates in a microchannel, a thin film of liquid is formed on the bounding walls. In a microchannel with a rectangular cross-section, the liquid in the film leaks toward the low-pressure corners of the geometry, which leads to the appearance of local minima in the film thickness in the cross-sectional plane. In such a configuration, theory suggests that the minimum film thickness scales with Ca and Ca4/3 depending on the distance from the nose of the bubble, where Ca = μUb/γ is the flow capillary number based on the bubble velocity Ub, liquid viscosity μ, and surface tension γ, and Ca ≤ 1. We show that the film of a partially wetting liquid dewets on the channel wall at the sites of the local minima in the film thickness as it acquires thicknesses around and below 100 nm. Our experiments show that the distance Lw between the nose of the bubble and the initial dewetting location is a function of Ca and surface wettability. For channels of different wettability, Lw always scales proportional to Caα, where 1.7 < α < 2 for the range of 10-5 < Ca < 10-2. Moreover, Lw increases up to 10 times by enhancing the wettability of the surface at a given Ca. Our present measurements of Lw provide a design constraint on the lengths of bubbles to maintain a liquid wet channel without dry patches on the wall.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Materials Science(all)
- Condensed Matter Physics
- Surfaces and Interfaces