Microfluidic flows of wormlike micellar solutions

Ya Zhao, Perry Cheung, Amy Q. Shen

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

42 Scopus citations


The widespread use of wormlike micellar solutions is commonly found in household items such as cosmetic products, industrial fluids used in enhanced oil recovery and as drag reducing agents, and in biological applications such as drug delivery and biosensors. Despite their extensive use, there are still many details about the microscopic micellar structure and the mechanisms by which wormlike micelles form under flow that are not clearly understood. Microfluidic devices provide a versatile platform to study wormlike micellar solutions under various flow conditions and confined geometries. A review of recent investigations using microfluidics to study the flow of wormlike micelles is presented here with an emphasis on three different flow types: shear, elongation, and complex flow fields. In particular, we focus on the use of shear flows to study shear banding, elastic instabilities of wormlike micellar solutions in extensional flow (including stagnation and contraction flow field), and the use of contraction geometries to measure the elongational viscosity of wormlike micellar solutions. Finally, we showcase the use of complex flow fields in microfluidics to generate a stable and nanoporous flow-induced structured phase (FISP) from wormlike micellar solutions. This review shows that the influence of spatial confinement and moderate hydrodynamic forces present in the microfluidic device can give rise to a host of possibilities of microstructural rearrangements and interesting flow phenomena.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)34-46
Number of pages13
JournalAdvances in Colloid and Interface Science
StatePublished - Sep 2014


  • Elastic instability
  • Flow-induced structured phase (FISP)
  • Microfluidics
  • Shear banding
  • Wormlike micelles

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Surfaces and Interfaces
  • Physical and Theoretical Chemistry
  • Colloid and Surface Chemistry


Dive into the research topics of 'Microfluidic flows of wormlike micellar solutions'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this