Flattening of Diluted Species Profile via Passive Geometry in a Microfluidic Device

Micromachines (Basel). 2019 Nov 30;10(12):839. doi: 10.3390/mi10120839.


In recent years, microfluidic devices have become an important tool for use in lab-on-a-chip processes, including drug screening and delivery, bio-chemical reactions, sample preparation and analysis, chemotaxis, and separations. In many such processes, a flat cross-sectional concentration profile with uniform flow velocity across the channel is desired to achieve controlled and precise solute transport. This is often accommodated by the use of electroosmotic flow, however, it is not an ideal for many applications, particularly biomicrofluidics. Meanwhile, pressure-driven systems generally exhibit a parabolic cross-sectional concentration profile through a channel. We draw inspiration from finite element fluid dynamics simulations to design and fabricate a practical solution to achieving a flat solute concentration profile in a two-dimensional (2D) microfluidic channel. The channel possesses geometric features to passively flatten the solute profile before entering the defined region of interest in the microfluidic channel. An obviously flat solute profile across the channel is demonstrated in both simulation and experiment. This technology readily lends itself to many microfluidic applications which require controlled solute transport in pressure driven systems.

Keywords: flow control; flow profile; lab on a chip; microfluidics.