Video images under monochromatic illumination show the optical selection and control of thin film flow patterns on horizontal substrates. For each of the first three images, the film pattern is shown at two different times. The lower third of each image displays a thin film those contact line is initially straight.
Image copyright: Physical Review Letters
Schematic illustration of microflow that is optically driven via the thermocapillary effect. An intensity-modulated beam from a light source illuminates a substrate that supports a tiny quantity of liquid at one end. Temperature variations arise from light absorption and induce surface tension gradients that drive the flow from the brighter (hotter) to darker (cooler) regions on the substrate.
Image copyright: Physical Review Letters
Physicists at the Georgia Institute of Technology have demonstrated a new optical technique for controlling the flow of very small volumes of fluids over solid surfaces. The technique, which relies on changes in surface tension prompted by optically-generated thermal gradients, could provide the foundation for a new generation of dynamically reprogrammable microfluidic devices.
A paper describing the technique is the cover story for the August 1 issue of the journal Physical Review Letters. The research has been supported by the National Science Foundation and the Research Corporation.
John Toon | EurekAlert!
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