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Abstract

This mini-review reports the recent advances in the hydrodynamic techniques for formation of bubbles of gas in liquid in microfluidic systems. Systems comprising ducts that have widths of the order of 100 micrometers produce suspensions of bubbles with narrow size distributions. Certain of these systems have the ability to tune the volume fraction of the gaseous phase – over the whole range from zero to one. The rate of flow of the liquids through the devices determines the mechanism of formation of the bubbles – from break-up controlled by the rate of flow of the liquid (at low capillary numbers, and in the presence of strong confinement by the walls of the microchannels), to dynamics dominated by inertial effects (at high Weber numbers). The region of transition between these two regimes exhibits nonlinear behaviours, with period doubling cascades and irregular bubbling as prominent examples. Microfluidic systems provide new and uniquely controlled methods for generation of bubbles, and offer potential applications in micro-flow chemical processing, synthesis of materials, and fluidic optics.
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