Research Papers: Flows in Complex Systems

Uniform Flow Control for a Multipassage Microfluidic Sensor

[+] Author and Article Information
Stephen A. Solovitz

Assistant Professor
e-mail: stevesol@vancouver.wsu.edu

Jiheng Zhao

Graduate Student

Wei Xue

Assistant Professor

Jie Xu

Assistant Professor
Department of Mechanical Engineering,
Washington State University
Vancouver, 14204 NE Salmon Creek Avenue,
Vancouver, WA 98686

1Corresponding author.

Manuscript received April 13, 2012; final manuscript received November 26, 2012; published online March 19, 2013. Assoc. Editor: Kendra Sharp.

J. Fluids Eng 135(2), 021101 (Mar 19, 2013) (8 pages) Paper No: FE-12-1196; doi: 10.1115/1.4023444 History: Received April 13, 2012; Revised November 26, 2012

Microfluidic sensors have been very effective for rapid, portable bioanalysis, such as in determining the pH of a sample. By simultaneously detecting multiple chemicals, the overall measurement performance can be greatly improved. One such method involves a series of parallel microchannels, each of which measures one individual agent. For unbiased readings, the flow rate in each channel should be approximately the same. In addition, the system needs a compact volume which reduces both the wasted channel space and the overall device cost. To achieve these conditions, a manifold was designed using a tapered power law, based on a concept derived for electronics cooling systems. This manifold features a single feed passage of varying diameter, eliminating the excess volume from multiple branch steps. The design was simulated using computational fluid dynamics (CFD), which demonstrated uniform flow performance within 2.5% standard deviation. The design was further examined with microparticle image velocimetry (PIV), and the experimental flow rates were also uniform with approximately 10% standard deviation. Hence, the tapered power law can provide a uniform flow distribution in a compact package, as is needed in both this microfluidic sensor and in electronics cooling applications.

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Fig. 1

(a) Schematic of the multipassage pH sensor test module and (b) dimensioned drawing of the test module, with all dimensions in millimeters. The area of interest denotes a location studied closely via micro-PIV experiments, as discussed later.

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Fig. 2

Schematic of four different manifold shapes considered for uniform flow control. These images are not to scale, as the channel widths are significantly smaller than their lengths.

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Fig. 3

Simulated velocity vectors near the first manifold branch in path 2 at a channel Reynolds number ReDh of 3.0. This location corresponds to the area of interest denoted in Fig. 1(a).

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Fig. 4

Mean streamwise channel velocities U normalized by the desired mean channel velocity Uch in each of the four, 50-μm wide, parallel branches of path 2. Data are shown at a channel Reynolds number ReDh of 3.0, although the results are identical to other simulations at ReDh ≤ 30.

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Fig. 5

Schematic of the fabrication process for the experimental test piece

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Fig. 6

(a) Experimental test piece. (b) Enlarged view of the first manifold branch of path 2. This location corresponds to the area of interest denoted in Fig. 1(a).

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Fig. 7

Experimental velocity vectors near the first manifold branch in path 2 at a channel Reynolds number ReDh of 6.7. This location corresponds to the area of interest denoted in Fig. 1(a).

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Fig. 8

(a) Comparison of simulated and experimental velocity vectors upstream of the first manifold branch in path 2 at a channel Reynolds number ReDh of 6.7. (b) Comparison downstream of the branch for the same conditions. The results are averaged depthwise to account for the microscope depth-of-field.




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