Dynamics of meniscus-bound particle clusters in extensional flow

Sagar Chaudhary, Sachin S. Velankar, Charles M. Schroeder

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Capillary suspensions are three-phase mixtures containing a solid particulate phase, a continuous liquid phase, and a second immiscible liquid forming capillary bridges between particles. Capillary suspensions are encountered in a wide array of applications including 3D printing, porous materials, and food formulations, but despite recent progress, the micromechanics of particle clusters in flow is not fully understood. In this work, we study the dynamics of meniscus-bound particle clusters in planar extensional flow using a Stokes trap, which is an automated flow control technique that allows for precise manipulation of freely suspended particles or particle clusters in flow. Focusing on the case of a two-particle doublet, we use a combination of experiments and analytical modeling to understand how particle clusters rearrange, deform, and ultimately break up in extensional flow. The time required for cluster breakup is quantified as a function of capillary number C a and meniscus volume V . Importantly, a critical capillary number C a c r i t for cluster breakup is determined using a combination of experiments and modeling. Cluster relaxation experiments are also performed by deforming particle clusters in flow, followed by flow cessation prior to breakup and observing cluster relaxation dynamics under zero-flow conditions. In all cases, experiments are complemented by an analytical model that accounts for capillary forces, lubrication forces, hydrodynamic drag forces, and hydrodynamic interactions acting on the particles. Results from the analytical models are found to be in good agreement with experiments. Overall, this work provides a new quantitative understanding of the deformation dynamics of capillary clusters in extensional flow.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)397-413
Number of pages17
JournalJournal of Rheology
Issue number3
StatePublished - May 1 2024


  • Capillary suspensions
  • Colloids
  • Extensional flow
  • Liquid bridge
  • Microfluidics
  • Particle clusters

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Materials Science
  • Condensed Matter Physics
  • Mechanics of Materials
  • Mechanical Engineering


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