This paper reports an experimental study on reciprocating thermocapillary motion of a liquid plug in an externally heated glass capillary. The results were qualitatively compared with that from an analytical modeling. In the experiments, a liquid plug in a glass capillary was positioned between two heaters which were activated alternatively. The liquid plug was driven by the surface tension difference generated by the temperature gradients. The periodic temperature gradients generated by the two heaters made the liquid plug to move back and fort. This method has a potential in manipulating not only the plug motion but also the flow field inside the plug. The position of the plugs was captured and evaluated using a CCD camera. The plug position and maximum traveling distance were measured under various switching frequencies, and the results were recorded as time series for the dynamic analysis. The temperature variation between the heaters depended on the heating process, also depended on the liquid plug motions. An infra thermal camera was used to observe and record the capillary surface temperature when the liquid plug oscillated. A simple model was established for the liquid plug oscillation in the capillary under the periodical heating. The measured liquid plug motion and the temperature variations were compared with predicted results from the model.

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