Phase Separation of an Evaporating Ternary Solution in a Hele-Shaw Cell

Ricardo Arturo Lopez De La Cruz, Noor Schilder, Xuehua Zhang*, Detlef Lohse

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

3 Citations (Scopus)
119 Downloads (Pure)


In the present work, we investigate the dynamic phenomena induced by solvent evaporation from ternary solutions confined in a Hele-Shaw cell. The model solutions consist of ethanol, water, and oil, and with the decrease in ethanol concentration by selective evaporation, they may undergo microdroplet formation via the ouzo effect or macroscopic liquid-liquid phase separation. We varied the initial concentration of the three components of the solutions. For all ternary solutions, evaporation of the good solvent ethanol from the gas-liquid interface, aligned with one side of the cell, leads to a Marangoni instability at the early stage of the evaporation process. The presence of the Marangoni instability is in agreement with our recent predictions based on linear stability analysis of binary systems. However, the location and onset of subsequent microdroplet formation and phase separation are the result of the interplay between the Marangoni instability and the initial composition of the ternary mixtures. We classified the ternary solutions into different groups according to the initial concentration of oil. For each group, based on the ternary diagram of the mixture, we offer a rationale for the way phase separation takes place and discuss how the instability influences droplet nucleation. Our work helps us to understand under what conditions and where droplet nucleation can take place when advection is present during phase separation inside a microfluidic device.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)10450-10460
Number of pages11
Issue number35
Publication statusPublished - 7 Sept 2021


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