Stick–slip motion and controlled filling speed by the geometric design of soft micro-channels
Journal article, 2018


Liquid can move by capillary action through interconnected porous materials, as in fabric or paper towels. Today mass transport is controlled by chemical modification. It is, however, possible to direct mass transport by geometrical modifications. It is here proposed that it is possible to tailor capillary flow speed in a model system of micro-channels by the angle, size and position of attached side channels.


A flexible, rapid, and cost-effective method is used to produce micro-channels in gels. It involves 3D-printed moulds in which gels are cast. Open channels of micrometre size with several side channels on either one or two sides are produced with tilting angles of 10 – 170°. On a horizontal plane the meniscus of water driven by surface tension is tracked in the main channel.


The presence of side channels on one side slowed down the speed of the meniscus in the main channel least. Channels having side channels on both sides with tilting angles of up to 30° indicated tremendously slower flow, and the liquid exhibited a stick-slip motion. Broader side channels decreased the speed more than thinner ones, as suggested by the hypothesis. Inertial forces are suggested to be important in branched channel systems studied here.

capillary action

Lucas–Washburn equation

Foam structures

pinning meniscus


Johanna Andersson

Chalmers, Chemistry and Chemical Engineering, Applied Chemistry, Anette Larsson Group

Anette Larsson

Chalmers, Chemistry and Chemical Engineering, Applied Chemistry, Anette Larsson Group

Anna Ström

Chalmers, Chemistry and Chemical Engineering, Applied Chemistry

Journal of Colloid and Interface Science

0021-9797 (ISSN)

Vol. 524 139-147


Akzo Nobel - Pulp and Performance Chemicals, 2017-12-05 -- 2020-12-31.

Mölnlycke healthcare, 2015-03-01 -- 2017-02-28.

Stora Enso AB, 2015-01-01 -- 2016-12-31.

Akzo Nobel - Pulp and Performance Chemicals, 2015-01-01 -- 2016-12-31.

SCA Hygiene Products AB, 2015-01-01 -- 2016-12-31.

VINNOVA, 2015-03-01 -- 2017-02-28.

Subject Categories

Materials Engineering

Physical Chemistry

Bio Materials

Chemical Engineering

Materials Chemistry


Biomaterials Science

Areas of Advance


Materials Science



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