Viscosity is an important property of liquids. A viscosity change of aqueous substances that deviates from their normal levels usually implies a compromise in quality due to degradation or microorganism proliferation. Monitoring of macro-scale viscosity can be simply realized by various conventional tools, such as rotational viscometers, capillary tubes, falling bodies, and so forth. Nevertheless, today, micro-volume viscosity measurement remains a challenging endeavor, resulting in rare, expensive, or difficult-to-obtain samples not very well studied. For this reason, a novel technique for micro-viscosity based on rotational Brownian motion is presented in this paper. Janus microbeads were made by coating fluorescent polystyrene beads with gold film. Taking advantage of the bead configuration of half gold/half fluorescence, the rotational Brownian signal was expressed in terms of blinking fluorescent intensity. The characteristic correlation time was derived from the blinking intensity of trace amounts of a selected medium over a certain time period, and results were correlated with viscosity. Given a volume of only 2 µL for each measurement, calibration of a series of glycerol–water mixtures (100%–1% (v/v) water content) yielded good agreement with the expected viscosity predictions over the range of 0.8–574.8 cP. Five common oil products, including lubricant oil, baby oil, food oil, olive oil, and motor oil, were further investigated to demonstrate the feasibility and practicability of the proposed technique. Data measured by the rotational Brownian motion-based diffusometer were comparable with those measured by a commercial rotational viscometer. The method also explicitly showed viscosity degradation after the oils were heated at a high temperature of over 100 ◦ C for 10 min. Evaluation proved the proposed Janus microbead-enabled rotational diffusometric technique to be a promising approach for rapid and micro-scale viscosity measurement.
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