Marangoni effect in microbubble systems

Koji Takahashi, Jian Gang Weng, Chang Lin Tien

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

46 Citations (Scopus)


This work explores the application of the Marangoni effect in micro systems involving small gas or vapor bubbles in a liquid environment subjected to a temperature gradient. The Marangoni effect characterizes the variation of surface tension along the bubble surface resulting from the temperature gradient around the bubble, thus driving the bubble toward the higher temperature region. This phenomenon is more pronounced as the bubble becomes smaller and the temperature gradient becomes steeper, both of which can be achieved in microbubble systems. Potential applications based on the Marangoni effect include linear bubble actuators, dynamic microvalves, and hot-spot locators. The optimum bubble size for these applications is expected to be of the order of 10 μ m. A smaller bubble may be difficult to introduce into the working system and maintain its size. Presented for illustration is a feasibility analysis for both a noncondensable gas bubble and a vapor bubble situated above a microheater. The analysis yields results for the temperature field around the bubble surface and the Marangoni driving pressure, which is a key element of the performance evaluation for all Marangoni-effect-based applications. The findings demonstrate clearly that the Marangoni effect on microbubbles is very significant and shows great promise for applications in microelectromechanical systems (MEMS).

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)169-182
Number of pages14
JournalMicroscale Thermophysical Engineering
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - Aug 1 1999
Externally publishedYes

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Atomic and Molecular Physics, and Optics
  • Materials Science (miscellaneous)
  • General Materials Science
  • Condensed Matter Physics
  • Mechanics of Materials
  • Mechanical Engineering
  • Physics and Astronomy (miscellaneous)


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