Marangoni flows offer an interesting and useful means to transport particles at fluid interfaces with potential applications such as dry powder pulmonary drug delivery. In this article, we investigate the transport of partially wetted particles at a liquid/vapor interface under the influence of Marangoni flows driven by gradients in the surface excess concentration of surfactants. We deposit a microliter drop of soluble (sodium dodecyl sulfate) aqueous surfactant solution or pure insoluble liquid (oleic acid) surfactant on a water subphase and observe the transport of a pre-deposited particle. Following the previous observation by Wang et al.  that a surfactant front rapidly advances ahead of the deposited drop contact line and initiates particle motion but then moves beyond the particle, we now characterize the two dominant, time- and position-dependent forces acting on the moving particle: (1) a surface tension force acting on the three-phase contact line around the particle periphery due to the surface tension gradient at the liquid/vapor interface which always accelerates the particle and (2) a viscous force acting on the immersed surface area of the particle which accelerates or decelerates the particle depending on the difference in the velocities of the liquid and particle. We find that the particle velocity evolves over time in two regimes. In the acceleration regime, the net force on the particle acts in the direction of particle motion, and the particle quickly accelerates and reaches a maximum velocity. In the deceleration regime, the net force on the particle reverses and the particle decelerates gradually and stops. We identify the parameters that affect the two forces acting on the particle, including the initial particle position relative to the surfactant drop, particle diameter, particle wettability, subphase thickness, and surfactant solubility. We systematically vary these parameters and probe the spatial and temporal evolution of the two forces acting on the particle as it moves along its trajectory in both regimes. We find that a larger particle always lags behind the smaller particle when placed at an equal initial distance from the drop. Similarly, particles more deeply engulfed in the subphase lag behind those less deeply engulfed. Further, the extent of particle transport is reduced as the subphase thickness decreases due to the larger velocity gradients in the subphase recirculation flows.
Sharma, R., Corcoran, T. E., Garoff, S., Przybycien, T. M., & Tilton, R. D. (2017). Transport of a partially wetted particle at the liquid/vapor interface under the influence of an externally imposed surfactant generated Marangoni stress. Colloids and Surfaces A: Physicochemical and Engineering Aspects, 521, 49–60. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.colsurfa.2016.08.002