Step-emulsification in a microfluidic device

Z. Li, A. M. Leshansky, L. M. Pismen, P. Tabeling

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


We present a comprehensive study of the step-emulsification process for high-throughput production of colloidal monodisperse droplets. The 'microfluidic step emulsifier' combines a shallow microchannel operating with two co-flowing immiscible fluids and an abrupt (step-like) opening to a deep and wide reservoir. Based on Hele-Shaw hydrodynamics, we determine the quasi-static shape of the fluid interface prior to transition to oscillatory step-emulsification at low capillary numbers. The theoretically derived transition threshold yields an excellent agreement with experimental data. A closed-form expression for the size of the droplets generated in the step-emulsification regime and derived using geometric arguments also shows a very good agreement with the experiment.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1023-1031
Number of pages9
JournalLab on a Chip
Issue number4
StatePublished - 21 Feb 2015

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • General Chemistry
  • Bioengineering
  • Biochemistry
  • Biomedical Engineering


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