Inertial microfluidics can separate microparticles in a continuous and high-throughput manner, and is very promising for a wide range of industrial, biomedical and clinical applications. However, most of the proposed inertial microfluidic devices only work effectively at a limited and narrow flow rate range because the performance of inertial particle focusing and separation is normally very sensitive to the flow rate (Reynolds number). In this work, an innovative particle separation method is proposed and developed by taking advantage of the secondary flow and particle inertial lift force in a straight channel (AR = 0.2) with arc-shaped groove arrays patterned on the channel top surface. Through the simulation results achieved, it can be found that a secondary flow is induced within the cross section of the microchannel and guides different-size particles to the corresponding equilibrium positions. On the other hand, the effects of the particle size, flow rate and particle concentration on particle focusing and separation quality were experimentally investigated. In the experiments, the performance of particle focusing, however, was found relatively insensitive to the variation of flow rate. According to this, a separation of 4.8 and 13 µm particle suspensions was designed and successfully achieved in the proposed microchannel, and the results show that a qualified particle separation can be achieved at a wide range of flow rate. This flow rate-insensitive microfluidic separation (filtration) method is able to potentially serve as a reliable biosample preparation processing step for downstream bioassays.
Available for download on Wednesday, March 07, 2018