Emulsification is an important process in various fields including foods, pharmaceuticals, cosmetics, and chemicals. Emulsification operation is commonly conducted using conventional emulsification devices, such as high-speed blenders, colloid mills, high-pressure homogenizers, and ultrasonic homogenizers. However, these emulsification devices result in the production of polydisperse emulsions with wide droplet size distributions and poor controllability in droplet size and its distribution. In contrast, monodisperse emulsions consisting of monosize droplets have received a great deal of attentions over the past decade due to their high-tech applications, e.g., monosize microparticles as spacers for electronic devices and monosize micro-carriers for drug delivery systems (DDS). Our group proposed microchannel (MC) emulsification as a promising technique to produce monodisperse emulsions in the mid 1990s. Micro/Nanochannel (MNC) emulsification enables generating monosize droplets with the smallest coefficient of variation (CV) of below 5% using MC and nanochannel (NC) arrays of unique geometry. The resultant droplet size, which ranged from 0.5 to 200 μm, can be precisely controlled by channel geometry. Droplet generation for MNC emulsification is very mild and does not require any external shear stress; a dispersed phase that passed through channels is transformed spontaneously into monosize droplets inside a continuous-phase domain. The aim of this paper is to present recent developments in MNC emulsification chips, particularly focusing on asymmetric straight-through MC arrays for large-scale production of monodisperse emulsions. Asymmetric straight-through MC array chips were fabricated using a silicon-on-insulator wafer. Numerous asymmetric straight-through MCs each consisting of a microslot and a narrow MC were positioned in the central region of the chip. Monosize droplets were stably generated via asymmetric straight-through MCs at high production rates. Below a critical droplet production rate, monosize droplets were generated via asymmetric straight-through MCs, with droplet size and size distribution independent of the droplet productivity. The use of a large asymmetric straight-through MC array chip achieved the mass production of monosize tetradecane oil droplets at ∼1 L/h. The simulation results using CFD (computational fluid dynamics) agreed well with the experimental results and provided useful information, such as the movement of the oil-water interface during droplet generation. Monosize submicron droplets were also obtained using NC emulsification chips made of single-crystal silicon.

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