Capillary flow of evaporating liquid solutions in open rectangular microchannels

Panayiotis K Kolliopoulos, Krystopher S Jochem, Lorraine F. Francis, Satish Kumar

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7 Scopus citations


Capillary flow of liquids plays a key role in many applications including lab-on-a-chip devices, heat pipes and printed electronics manufacturing. Open rectangular microchannels often appear in these applications, with the lack of a top resulting in a complex free-surface morphology and evaporation. In this work we develop a theoretical model based on lubrication theory and kinetically limited evaporation to examine capillary flow of evaporating liquid solutions in open rectangular microchannels connected to circular reservoirs. The model accounts for the complex free-surface morphology, solvent evaporation, Marangoni flows due to gradients in solute concentration and temperature and finite-size reservoir effects. Significant differences are predicted in flow behaviour between pure liquids and liquid solutions due to solvent evaporation and solute transport. Marangoni flows are found to promote more uniform solute deposition patterns after solvent evaporation. Model predictions of meniscus position evolution are in good agreement with prior capillary-flow experiments of aqueous poly(vinyl alcohol) solutions in the presence of evaporation. The model reveals that the principal mechanism through which evaporation influences the meniscus position in the experiments is the increase in viscosity with solute concentration.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numberA22
JournalJournal of Fluid Mechanics
StatePublished - May 10 2022

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This work was supported by the National Science Foundation (NSF) under Grant Nos. CMMI-1634263 and CMMI-2038722. K.S.J. acknowledges support from the NSF Graduate Research Fellowship Program under Grant No. DGE-1348264.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2022 Cambridge University Press. All rights reserved.


  • capillary flows
  • condensation/evaporation
  • microfluidics


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