Solute effects on dynamics and deformation of emulsion droplets during freezing

15 February 2022, Version 2
This content is a preprint and has not undergone peer review at the time of posting.


Soft or rigid particles, suspended in a liquid melt, interact with an advancing solidification front in various industrial and natural processes, such as fabrication of particle-reinforced-composites, growth of crystals, cryopreservation, frost heave, and growth of sea ice. The particle dynamics relative to the front determine the microstructure as well as the functional properties of the solidified material. The previous studies have extensively investigated the interaction of foreign objects with a moving solid-liquid interface in pure melts while in most real-life systems, solutes or surface active impurities are almost always present. Here we study experimentally the interaction of spherical oil droplets with a moving planar ice-water interface, while systematically increasing the surfactant concentration in the bulk liquid, using \emph{in situ} cryo-confocal microscopy. We demonstrate that a small amount of surfactant in the bulk liquid can instigate long-range droplet repulsion, extending over a length scale of 40 to 100µm, in contrast to the short-range predicted previously (<1µm). We report on the droplet deformation, while they are in contact with the ice-water interface, as a function of the bulk surfactant concentration, the droplet size, and the crystal growth rate. We also depict the dynamic evolution of solute-enriched premelted films (~5µm). Our results demonstrate how an increasing concentration of surfactant in the bulk and its subsequent segregation during solidification can dramatically alter the solidification microstructures. We anticipate that our experimental study can serve for the development of theoretical models incorporating solute effects.


confocal microscopy
fluorescent confocal microscopy
laser scanning confocal microscopy


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