The pressure drop along rectangular microchannels containing bubbles

Michael J. Fuerstman, Ann Lai, Meghan E. Thurlow, Sergey S. Shevkoplyas, Howard A. Stone, George M. Whitesides

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

329 Scopus citations


This paper derives the difference in pressure between the beginning and the end of a rectangular microchannel through which a flowing liquid (water, with or without surfactant, and mixtures of water and glycerol) carries bubbles that contact all four walls of the channel. It uses an indirect method to derive the pressure in the channel. The pressure drop depends predominantly on the number of bubbles in the channel at both low and high concentrations of surfactant. At intermediate concentrations of surfactant, if the channel contains bubbles (of the same or different lengths), the total, aggregated length of the bubbles in the channel is the dominant contributor to the pressure drop. The difference between these two cases stems from increased flow of liquid through the "gutters" - the regions of the system bounded by the curved body of the bubble and the corners of the channel - in the presence of intermediate concentrations of surfactant. This paper presents a systematic and quantitative investigation of the influence of surfactants on the flow of fluids in microchannels containing bubbles. It derives the contributions to the overall pressure drop from three regions of the channel: (i) the slugs of liquid between the bubbles (and separated from the bubbles), in which liquid flows as though no bubbles were present; (ii) the gutters along the corners of the microchannels; and (iii) the curved caps at the ends of the bubble.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1479-1489
Number of pages11
JournalLab on a Chip
Issue number11
StatePublished - 2007
Externally publishedYes

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • General Chemistry
  • Bioengineering
  • Biochemistry
  • Biomedical Engineering


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