Droplet confinement and leakage: Causes, underlying effects, and amelioration strategies




Debon, Aaron P.
Wootton, Robert C.R.
Elvira, Katherine S.

Journal Title

Journal ISSN

Volume Title




The applicability of droplet-based microfluidic systems to many research fields stems from the fact that droplets are generally considered individual and selfcontained reaction vessels. This study demonstrates that, more often than not, the integrity of droplets is not complete, and depends on a range of factors including surfactant type and concentration, the micro-channel surface, droplet storage conditions, and the flow rates used to form and process droplets. Herein, a model microfluidic device is used for droplet generation and storage to allow the comparative study of forty-four different oil/surfactant conditions. Assessment of droplet stability under these conditions suggests a diversity of different droplet failure modes. These failure modes have been classified into families depending on the underlying effect, with both numerical and qualitative models being used to describe the causative effect and to provide practical solutions for droplet failure amelioration in microfluidic systems.




Debon, A.P., Wootton, R.C.R. & Elvira, K.S. (2015). Droplet confinement and leakage: Causes, underlying effects, and amelioration strategies. Biomicrofluidics, 9(2), 024119. http://dx.doi.org/10.1063/1.4917343