Fluid surface tension evaluation using capillary wave measurement with optical coherence tomography

Hsiao Chuan Liu, Piotr Kijanka, Matthew W. Urban

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The surface tension of biological fluids is an important parameter because the mechanical properties of fluids are closely linked with hematological diseases and other pathophysiologies. Capillary waves are associated with fluid mechanical properties. Here, we propose a method that utilizes the acoustic radiation force (ARF) to generate propagating waves and optical coherence tomography (OCT) to measure the wave motion. This ARF-OCT method is capable of evaluating the surface tension of fluids, water and porcine whole blood in this study, based on the dispersion relation of capillary waves. Two-dimensional Fourier transforms were used to decompose frequency components of wave motion images to obtain a k-space representation and estimate the wave phase velocity. The phase velocity of capillary waves was obtained from the experimental results and compared to theoretical calculations. The surface tensions of water and porcine whole blood were determined from the experimental results. We first report that capillary waves measured with OCT can be a new promising modality for measuring the surface tension of fluids. The proposed method could be used to differentiate actual pathologic fluids or blood from those taken from healthy subjects and as a biomarker in future biomedical applications.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number055121
JournalAIP Advances
Issue number5
StatePublished - May 1 2020

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Physics and Astronomy(all)


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