Inertio-elastic focusing of bioparticles in microchannels at high throughput

Eugene J. Lim, Thomas J. Ober, Jon F. Edd, Salil P. Desai, Douglas Neal, Ki Wan Bong, Patrick S. Doyle, Gareth H. McKinley, Mehmet Toner

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

160 Citations (Scopus)


Controlled manipulation of particles from very large volumes of fluid at high throughput is critical for many biomedical, environmental and industrial applications. One promising approach is to use microfluidic technologies that rely on fluid inertia or elasticity to drive lateral migration of particles to stable equilibrium positions in a microchannel. Here, we report on a hydrodynamic approach that enables deterministic focusing of beads, mammalian cells and anisotropic hydrogel particles in a microchannel at extremely high flow rates. We show that on addition of micromolar concentrations of hyaluronic acid, the resulting fluid viscoelasticity can be used to control the focal position of particles at Reynolds numbers up to Re ≈ 10,000 with corresponding flow rates and particle velocities up to 50 ml min-1 and 130ms-1. This study explores a previously unattained regime of inertio-elastic fluid flow and demonstrates bioparticle focusing at flow rates that are the highest yet achieved.

Original languageEnglish
Article number4120
JournalNature communications
Publication statusPublished - 2014 Jun 18

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Chemistry(all)
  • Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)
  • Physics and Astronomy(all)


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