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Selection of two-phase flow patterns at a simple junction in microfluidic devices

Engl W, Ohata K, Guillot P, Colin A, Panizza P — Phys. Rev. Lett. 96 (2005) 134505

publié le , mis à jour le

We study the behavior of a confined stream made of two immiscible fluids when it reaches a
T junction. Two flow patterns are witnessed : the stream is either directed in only one sidearm,
yielding a preferential flow pathway for the dispersed phase, or splits between both. We show that
the selection of these patterns is not triggered by the shape of the junction nor by capillary effects,
but results from confinement. It can be anticipated in terms of the hydrodynamic properties of the
flow. A simple model yielding universal behavior in terms of the relevant adimensional parameters
of the problem is presented and discussed.

- Publié dans Physical Review Letters