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, 92 (9), 094501

A Microfluidic Rectifier: Anisotropic Flow Resistance at Low Reynolds Numbers

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A Microfluidic Rectifier: Anisotropic Flow Resistance at Low Reynolds Numbers

Alex Groisman et al. Phys Rev Lett.

Abstract

It is one of the basic concepts of Newtonian fluid dynamics that at low Reynolds number (Re) the Navier-Stokes equation is linear and flows are reversible. In microfluidic devices, where Re is essentially always low, this implies that flow resistance in microchannels is isotropic. Here we present a microfluidic rectifier: a microscopic channel of a special shape whose flow resistance is strongly anisotropic, differing by up to a factor of 2 for opposite flow directions. Its nonlinear operation at arbitrary small Re is due to non-Newtonian elastic properties of the working fluid, which is a 0.01% aqueous solution of a high molecular weight polymer. The rectifier works as a dynamic valve and may find applications in microfluidic pumps and other integrated devices.

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