We fabricated a microfluidic device with a three-dimensional (3D) structure and verified its droplet-generation performance for the stable production of droplets of around 10 μm in size. We compared the performance of the 3D device with that of conventional simple T-junction and cross-junction structures. The continuous phase sheared the dispersed phase into droplets from eight directions in the 3D device, compared with only one direction in the T-junction device and two in the cross-junction device. Droplets were produced efficiently over a wide range of fluid properties and flow conditions with the 3D device, unlike with the two conventional planar devices. Fluidic experiments were conducted using mineral oil with a surfactant as the continuous phase, deionized (DI) water as the dispersed phase, and DI water with glycerin to change the viscosity of the dispersed phase. The minimum droplet length was 47.2 μm in the T-junction device, 39.0 μm in the cross-junction device, and 22.4 μm in the 3D device when using a water and glycerin mixture with a viscosity of 9.0 mPa·s. Compared with the conventional devices, smaller droplets were produced using our 3D device, indicating that it has excellent droplet-generation performance.
ASJC Scopus subject areas