Altering the coffee-ring effect by adding a surfactant-like viscous polymer solution

Changdeok Seo, Daeho Jang, Jongjin Chae, Sehyun Shin

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83 Citations (Scopus)


A uniform deposition of the suspended particles in an evaporating droplet is necessary in many research fields. Such deposition is difficult to achieve, because the coffee-ring effect dominates the internal flow in a droplet. The present study adopts a biocompatible, surfactant-like polymer (Polyethylene glycol, PEG) to break the coffee-ring effect and obtain a relatively uniform deposition of the microparticles with yielding multi-ring pattern over a droplet area. Movements of the suspended particles in evaporating droplets and deposition patterns of them on a glass substrate were analyzed with microscopic images and video files. The PEG in the droplets successfully altered the coffee-ring effect because of the surface tension variation, which induced a centripetal Marangoni flow. Balancing these two phenomena apparently generated the Marangoni vortex. For PEG solution droplets, the pinning-depinning process during evaporation was periodically repeated and multiple rings were regularly formed. In conclusion, adding a surfactant-like viscous polymer in a droplet could provide a uniform coating of suspended particles, such as cells and various biomaterials, which would be essentially required for droplet assays of biomedical applications.

Original languageEnglish
Article number500
JournalScientific reports
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2017 Dec 1

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General


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