Viscosity-Mediated Growth and Coalescence of Surface Nanodroplets

Jia Meng, Jae Bem You*, Xuehua Zhang

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

14 Citations (Scopus)
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Solvent exchange is a simple method to produce surface nanodroplets on a substrate for a wide range of applications by displacing a solution of good solvent, poor solvent, and oil (solution A) by a poor solvent (solution B). In this work, we show that the growth and coalescence of nanodroplets on a homogeneous surface is mediated by the viscosity of the solvent. We show that at high flow rates of viscous solution B, the final droplet volume deviates from the scaling law that correlates the final droplet volume to the flow rate of nonviscous solution B, reported in previous work. We attribute this deviation to a two-regime growth in viscous solution B, where transition from an initial, fast regime to a final slow regime is influenced by the flow rate. Moreover, viscous solution B hinders the coalescence of growing droplets, leading to a distinct bimodal distribution of droplet size with stable nanodroplets in contrast to a continuous size distribution of droplets in nonviscous case. We demonstrate that the group of small droplets produced in a high-viscosity environment may be applied for enhanced fluorescence detection with higher sensitivity and shorter response time. The finding of this work can potentially be applied for mediating the size distribution of surface nanodroplets on a homogeneous surface without templates.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)12476-12484
Number of pages9
JournalThe Journal of physical chemistry C
Issue number23
Publication statusPublished - 11 Jun 2020


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