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Roles of gas in capillary filling of nanoslits

Abstract : Control and understanding of flows inside fabricated nanochannels is rich in potential applications, but nanoscale physics of fluids remains to be clarified even for the simple case of spontaneous capillary filling. This paper reports an experimental and modelling investigation of the role of gas on the capillary filling kinetics slowdown in nanoslits (depth going from 20 nm to 400 nm) compared to Washburn's prediction. First, the role of gas through the usually observed trapped bubbles during a nanoslits capillary filling is analysed thanks to experiments realized with water, ethanol and silicone oil in siliconglass nanochannels. Bubbles are trapped only when slit depth is below a liquid-dependent threshold. This is interpreted as possible contact line pinning strength varying with wettability. Stagnant trapped bubbles lifetime is investigated for the three liquids used. Experimental results show that bubbles are first compressed because of the increasing local liquid pressure. Once the gas bubble pressure is sufficiently high, gas dissolution induces the final bubble collapse. Influence of the bubbles' presence on the capillary filling kinetics is analysed by estimating viscous resistance induced by the bubbles using an effective medium approach (Brinkman approximation). Surprisingly, the bubbles' presence is found to have a very minor effect on nanoslits capillary filling kinetics. Second, the transient gas pressure profile between the advancing meniscus and the channel exit is computed numerically taking into account gas compressibility. A non-negligible over-pressure ahead of the meniscus is found for nano-scale slit capillary filling. Considering the possible presence of precursor films, reducing cross-section for gas flow, leads to a capillary filling kinetics slowdown comparable to the ones measured experimentally.
keyword : Naofluidic
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Submitted on : Thursday, December 19, 2013 - 2:38:35 PM
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Fabien Chauvet, Sandrine Geoffroy, Abdelkrim Hamouni, Marc Prat, Pierre Joseph. Roles of gas in capillary filling of nanoslits. Soft Matter, Royal Society of Chemistry, 2012, vol. 8, pp. 10738-10749. ⟨10.1039/c2sm25982f⟩. ⟨hal-00920951⟩

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