Wettability controls slow immiscible displacement through local interfacial instabilities

Michael Jung, Martin Brinkmann, Ralf Seemann, Thomas Hiller, Marta Sanchez de la Lama, Stephan Herminghaus

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Immiscible fluid displacement with average front velocities in the capillary-dominated regime is studied in a transparent Hele-Shaw cell with cylindrical posts. Employing various combinations of fluids and wall materials allows us to cover a range of advancing contact angles 46∘≤θa≤180∘ of the invading fluid in our experiments. In parallel, we study the displacement process in particle-based simulations that account for wall wettability. Considering the same arrangement of posts in experiments and simulation, we find a consistent crossover between stable interfacial displacement at θa≲80∘ and capillary fingering at high contact angles θa≳120∘. The position of the crossover is quantified through the evolution of the interface length and the final saturation of the displaced fluid. A statistical analysis of the local displacement processes demonstrates that the shape evolution of the fluid front is governed by local instabilities as proposed by Cieplak and Robbins for a quasistatic interfacial displacement [Cieplak and Robbins, Phys. Rev. Lett. 60, 2042 (1988)]. The regime of stable front advances coincides with a corresponding region of contact angles where cooperative interfacial instabilities prevail. Capillary fingering, however, is observed only for large θa, where noncooperative instabilities dominate the invasion process.
Original languageEnglish
Article number074202
JournalPhysical Review Fluids
Issue number7
Publication statusPublished - 3 Nov 2016
Externally publishedYes


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