Self-Propulsion of Pure Water Droplets by Spontaneous Marangoni-Stress-Driven Motion

Abstract : We report spontaneous motion in a fully biocompatible system consisting of pure water droplets in an oil-surfactant medium of squalane and monoolein. Water from the droplet is solubilized by the reverse micellar solution, creating a concentration gradient of swollen reverse micelles around each droplet. The strong advection and weak diffusion conditions allow for the first experimental realization of spontaneous motion in a system of isotropic particles at sufficiently large Péclet number according to a straightforward generalization of a recently proposed mechanism [S. Michelin, E. Lauga, and D. Bartolo, Phys. Fluids 25, 061701 (2013); S. Michelin and E. Lauga, J. Fluid Mech. 747, 572 (2014)]. Experiments with a highly concentrated solution of salt instead of water, and tetradecane instead of squalane, confirm the above mechanism. The present swimming droplets are able to carry external bodies such as large colloids, salt crystals, and even cells.
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Ziane Izri, Marjolein N. van der Linden, Sébastien Michelin, Olivier Dauchot. Self-Propulsion of Pure Water Droplets by Spontaneous Marangoni-Stress-Driven Motion. Physical Review Letters, American Physical Society, 2014, 113 (24), pp.248302. ⟨10.1103/PhysRevLett.113.248302⟩. ⟨hal-01114975⟩

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