Surface Tensions of Picoliter Droplets with Sub-Millisecond Surface Age

Rachael Miles, Michael Glerum, Hallie Boyer, Jim Walker, Cari Dutcher, Bryan Bzdek*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle (Academic Journal)peer-review

6 Citations (Scopus)
92 Downloads (Pure)


Aerosols are key components of the atmosphere and play important roles in many industrial processes. Because aerosol particles have high surface-to-volume ratios, their surface properties are especially important. However, direct measurement of the surface properties of aerosol particles is challenging. In this work, we describe an approach to measure the surface tension of picoliter volume droplets with surface age <1 ms by resolving their dynamic oscillations in shape immediately after ejection from a microdroplet dispenser. Droplet shape oscillations are monitored by highly time-resolved (500 ns) stroboscopic imaging, and droplet surface tension is accurately retrieved across a wide range of droplet sizes (10-25 μm radius) and surface ages (down to ∼100 μs). The approach is validated for droplets containing sodium chloride, glutaric acid, and water, which all show no variation in surface tension with surface age. Experimental results from the microdroplet dispenser approach are compared to complementary surface tension measurements of 5-10 μm radius droplets with aged surfaces using a holographic optical tweezers approach and predictions of surface tension using a statistical thermodynamic model. These approaches combined will allow investigation of droplet surface tension across a wide range of droplet sizes, compositions, and surface ages.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)3021-3029
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of Physical Chemistry A
Issue number13
Early online date13 Mar 2019
Publication statusPublished - 4 Apr 2019


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