Research

Freezing in a Microchannel

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Fluid mechanics at the microscale can behave quite differently than in our everyday experience. Microfluidic devices–sometimes known as labs on a chip–are becoming increasingly important in research and daily life. For example, the test strips used by diabetics to check their blood sugar levels are microfluidic devices.  In this video, researchers use a microfluidic channel to observe the freezing of supercooled water droplets. As the droplet first passes into the cold zone of the channel, it flash freezes, filling from the inside out with ice crystals. As it continues through the cold zone, the drop freezes fully, beginning at the outside surface and working inward. As it does so, the ice droplet fractures due to stresses. (Video credit: Stan et al)

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