Glass capillary microfluidics for production of monodispersed poly (dl-lactic acid) and polycaprolactone microparticles: experiments and numerical simulations

Hypothesis: Droplet size in microfluidic devices is affected by wettability of the microfluidic channels. Three-dimensional countercurrent flow focusing using assemblies of chemically inert glass capillaries is expected to minimize wetting of the channel walls by the organic solvent. Experiments: Monodispersed polycaprolactone and poly(lactic acid) particles with a diameter of 18-150 μm were produced by evaporation of solvent (dichloromethane or 1:2 mixture of chloroform and toluene) from oil-in-water or water-in-oil-in-water emulsions produced in three-dimensional flow focusing glass capillary devices. The drop generation behaviour was simulated numerically using the volume of fluid method. Findings: The numerical results showed good agreement with high-speed video recordings. Monodispersed droplets were produced in the dripping regime when the ratio of the continuous phase flow rate to dispersed phase flow rate was 5-20 and the Weber number of the dispersed phase was less than 0.01. The porosity of polycaprolactone particles increased from 8 to 62% when 30 wt% of the water phase was incorporated in the organic phase prior to emulsification. The inner water phase was loaded with 0.156 wt% lidocaine hydrochloride to achieve a sustained drug release. 26 % of lidocaine was released after 1 h and more than 93 % of the drug was released after 130 h.