Electroosmotic flow measurements in a freely suspended liquid film: Experiments and numerical simulations

Fluid flow profiles in free liquid films stabilised by anionic and cationic surfactants under an external electric field were investigated. Depthwise velocity fields were measured at the mid region of the free liquid film by confocal μ-PIV and corresponding numerical simulations were performed using Finite Element Method (FEM) to model the system. Depthwise change in velocity profiles was observed with electroosmotic flow dominating in the vicinity of the gas-liquid and solid-liquid interfaces while backpressure drives fluid in the opposite direction at the core of the film. It was also found that the direction of the flow at various sections of the films depends on the type of surfactant used, but flow features remained the same. Numerical simulations predicted the flow profiles with reasonable accuracy; however, asymmetry of the actual film geometry caused deviations at the top half of the computational domain. Overall, electroosmotic flow profiles within a free liquid film is similar to that of the closed-end solid microchannel. However, the flow direction and features of the velocity profiles can be changed by selecting various types of surfactants. The free liquid films thickness was selected to match dimensions of foam Plateau border. Hence these findings will be useful in developing a separation system based on foam electrokinetics.