We present the conformal coating of non-spherical magnetic particles in a co-laminar flow microfluidic system. Whereas in the previous reports spherical particles had been coated with thin films that formed spheres around the particles; in this article, we show the coating of non-spherical particles with coating layers that are approximately uniform in thickness. The novelty of our work is that while liquid-liquid interfacial tension tends to minimize the surface area of interfacesfor example, to form spherical droplets that encapsulate spherical particlesin our experiments, the thin film that coats non-spherical particles has a non-minimal interfacial area. We first make bullet-shaped magnetic microparticles using a stop-flow lithography method that was previously demonstrated. We then suspend the bullet-shaped microparticles in an aqueous solution and flow the particle suspension with a co-flow of a non-aqueous mixture. A magnetic field gradient from a permanent magnet pulls the microparticles in the transverse direction to the fluid flow, until the particles reach the interface between the immiscible fluids. We observe that upon crossing the oil-water interface, the microparticles become coated by a thin film of the aqueous fluid. When we increase the two-fluid interfacial tension by reducing surfactant concentration, we observe that the particles become trapped at the interface, and we use this observation to extract an approximate magnetic susceptibility of the manufactured non-spherical microparticles. Finally, using fluorescence imaging, we confirm the uniformity of the thin film coating along the entire curved surface of the bullet-shaped particles. To the best of our knowledge, this is the first demonstration of conformal coating of non-spherical particles using microfluidics.
Moon, Byeong-Ui, Navid Hakimi, Dae Kun Hwang, Scott SH Tsai