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Effect of transverse temperature gradient on the migration of a deformable droplet in a Poiseuille flow

  • Sayan Das (a1), Shubhadeep Mandal (a1) and Suman Chakraborty (a1)


Intricate manipulation of droplets in fluidic confinements may turn out to be critically important for achieving their controlled transverse distributions. Here, we study the migration characteristics of a suspended deformable droplet in a parallel plate channel under the combined influence of a constant temperature gradient in the transverse direction and an imposed pressure driven flow. An outstanding question concerning the resultant non-trivial dynamical features that we address here pertains to the nonlinearity that results as a consequence of the shape deformation, which does not permit us to analyse the combined transport as a mere linear superposition of the results for the thermocapillary and imposed flow driven droplet migration in an effort to obtain the final solution. For the analytical solution, an asymptotic approach is used, where we neglect any effect of inertia or thermal convection of the fluid in either of the phases. To obtain a numerical solution, we use the conservative level set method. We perform numerical simulations over a wide range of governing parameters and obtain the dependence of the transverse steady position of the droplet on different parameters. In order to address practical microfluidic set-ups, the influence of a bounding wall as well as the effect of thermal convection and finite shape deformation on the cross-stream migration of the droplet is investigated through numerical simulations. Increase in the thermal Marangoni stress shifts the steady-state transverse position of the droplet further away from the channel centreline, for any particular value of the capillary number (which signifies the ratio of the viscous force to the surface tension force). The confinement ratio, which is the ratio of the droplet radius to the channel height, plays an important role in predicting the transverse position of the droplet and thus has immense consequences for the design of droplet-based microfluidic devices with enhanced functionalities. A large confinement ratio drives the droplet towards the channel centre, whereas a smaller confinement ratio causes the droplet to move towards the wall. Moreover, for a fixed droplet radius and constant imposed temperature gradient, an increase in the channel height results in an increase in the time required for the droplet to reach the steady-state position. However, the final steady-state position of the droplet is independent of its initial position but at the same time dependent on the droplet phase thermal conductivity. A larger droplet thermal conductivity compared with the carrier phase results in a steady-state droplet position closer to the channel centreline. A higher fluid inertia, on the other hand, shifts the steady-state position towards the channel wall.


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