Lattice Boltzmann phase-field modeling of thermocapillary flows in a confined microchannel

Liu, Haihu and Valocchi, Albert J. and Zhang, Yonghao and Kang, Qinjun (2014) Lattice Boltzmann phase-field modeling of thermocapillary flows in a confined microchannel. Journal of Computational Physics, 256. pp. 334-356. ISSN 0021-9991 (

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To understand how thermocapillary forces manipulate the droplet motion in a confined microchannel, a lattice Boltzmann phase-field model is developed to simulate immiscible thermocapillary flows with consideration of fluid–surface interactions. Based on our recent work of Liu et al., 2013 [54], an interfacial force of potential form is proposed to model the interfacial tension force and the Marangoni stress. As only the first-order derivatives are involved, the proposed interfacial force is easily combined with the wetting boundary condition to account for fluid–surface interactions. The hydrodynamic equations are solved using a multiple-relaxation-time algorithm with the interfacial force treated as a forcing term, while an additional convection–diffusion equation is solved by a passive-scalar approach to obtain the temperature field, which is coupled to the interfacial tension by an equation of state. The model is first validated against analytical solutions for the thermocapillary-driven convection in two superimposed fluids at negligibly small Reynolds and Marangoni numbers. It is then demonstrated to produce the correct equilibrium contact angle for a binary fluid with different viscosities when a constant interfacial tension is taken into account. Finally, we numerically simulate the thermocapillary flows for a microfluidic droplet adhering on a solid wall and subject to a simple shear flow when a laser is applied to locally heat the fluids, and investigate the influence of contact angle and fluid viscosity ratio on the droplet dynamical behavior. The droplet motion can be completely blocked provided that the contact angle exceeds a threshold value, below which the droplet motion successively undergoes four stages: constant velocity, deceleration, acceleration, and approximately constant velocity. When the droplet motion is completely blocked, three steady vortices are clearly visible, and the droplet is fully filled by two counter-rotating vortices with the smaller one close to the external vortex. The thermocapillary convection is strengthened with decreasing viscosity ratio of the droplet to the carrier fluid. For low viscosity ratios, the droplet motion is completely blocked and exhibits the similar behavior, but the structure of the internal vortices is more complicated at the lowest viscosity ratio. For high viscosity ratios, the droplet motion is partially blocked and undergoes a series of complex transitions, which can be explained as a result of the dynamically varying Marangoni forces.