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Abstract

Droplet breakup in laminar flows is important in emulsification processes and polymer blending. The influence of surfactants on droplet deformation and breakup in a plane hyperbolic flow was studied experimentally in an opposed-stream device. As in the case of simple shear flow, the inhomogeneity of the surfactant distribution along the droplet interface has a pronounced effect. Our results are qualitatively consistent with other numerical studies for droplet breakup in an axisymmetric elongational flow. Also a striking similarity is noted with other experimental observations for the deformation and breakup of polymeric drops in a quasi-steady-plane hyperbolic flow. The critical capillary number for droplet breakup in the experiments correlates with the interfacial viscoelasticity, and a reformulation of the numerical framework in terms of interfacial elasticity parameters is suggested for future numerical work including other linear flows.