Development of a Fast Simulation Method for Particle-Laden Fluid Interfaces and Selected Applications to Problems Involving Drops
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Solid particles tend to adhere to fluid interfaces under the action of capillary force. This adsorption process is robust and has been exploited in lots of applications from stabilisation of emulsions to micro fluidic fabrications. The resulting particle laden fluid interfaces can manifest solid-like behaviours. The modifi cation of the surface tension and the emergence of surface shear elasticity of a particle-covered drops are attributed to the particle-induced surface stress. This stress represents at the continuum level the microscopic effect of particle-particle interactions. Understanding the link between the surface stress and the particle arrangement are crucial for creating novel soft materials in the future. A challenge remains when carrying out numerical simulations of particle-laden fluid interfaces: the large separation of scales makes the direct numerical simulations extraordinary expensive. Physical features present in the system come from both the liquid meniscus on the surface of each particle and the fluid interfaces containing thousands of particles. Motivated by the need for a fast simulation method to study problems involving particle-laden fluid interface, this thesis presents a new numerical formulation named Fast Interface Particle Interaction (FIPI) that can be used to simulate a large number of solid particles absorbed on fluid interfaces at a moderate computational cost. The outstanding performance of this new method is attributed to the fact that particle-level phenomena are modelled with analytical or semi-empirical expressions while hydrodynamics and fluid interface morphology at larger scales are fully resolved. Two important studies of particle-covered drops have been carried out with FIPI. In the first one a particle-covered pendant drop is simulated. The result reveals that the FIPI can successfully capture the modulation of surface tension made by absorbed particles. Moreover, the information of anisotropic surface stress is now directly available on the fluid interfaces. This capability has not been achieved previously in both experiments and simulations. The anisotropic stress emerged on the surface of a pendant drop is caused by anisotropic arrangement of the particles on the interface which in turn is induced by stretching of the interface due to gravity. Once the surface tension of the fluid interface is reduced below zero, the Laplace pressure inside the drop becomes negative and the drop can buckle like a thin solid elastic shell under compression. In the second study, the behaviours of a particle covered spherical drop under compression have been explored. The simulation results indicate the possibilities of particle desorption as well as fluid interface buckling. The onset of desorption is highly correlated to small-scale monolayer undulations which can greatly amplify the normal forces pushing particles out of the interface. The behaviours of a particle-covered drop under compression depend on the combination of several parameters related to the properties of the particle and the surface pressure created by the monolayer.
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