Journal of Colloid and Interface Science, Vol.589, 187-197, 2021
Tension gradient-driven oil/water interface rapid particle self-assembly and its application in microdroplet motion control
Hypothesis: A binary mixture was used during injection with one water-miscible component and the other water-immiscible, which can help particles to migrate toward and then self-assemble at the inter face. Experiments: The ethanol-tetrachloromethane binary mixture was used to verify the self-assembly method, with the diameter of droplets being about 1 mm. As the ethanol diffused into the colloidal solution, the colloidal particles efficiently moved towards and self-assembled on the oil/water interface, while a colloidal particle film with high-coverage was able to rapidly form on the droplet surface even in an ultra-low concentration colloidal solution. The effects of ethanol concentration and particle concentration on self-assembly were investigated. Findings: The driving force for self-assembly originated from the tension gradient generated by ethanol's concentration gradient at the particle/liquid interfaces, where the concentrations of ethanol and the colloidal solution had significant effects on self-assembly. The simulation and calculations results aligned well with experiments, providing the theoretical basis for this self-assembly method. Further, as-prepared magnetic particle-coated droplets transformed into a non-wetting soft solid, which had long lifetimes and could be precisely moved, coalesced, and transferred in various two-dimensional and threedimensional liquid environments. Thus, wider applications are facilitated, such as droplet transfer, microreactor and other potential fields. (c) 2020 Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.