Sudarsan, Arjun Penubolu (2007-04). Multivortex micromixing: novel techniques using Dean flows for passive microfluidic mixing. Doctoral Dissertation.
Mixing of fluids at the microscale poses a variety of challenges, many of which arise from the fact that molecular diffusion is the dominant transport mechanism in the laminar flow regime. The unfavorable combination of low Reynolds numbers and high PA?A(C)clet numbers implies that cumbersomely long microchannels are required to achieve efficient levels of micromixing. Although considerable progress has been made toward overcoming these limitations (e.g., exploiting chaotic effects), many techniques employ intricate 3-D flow networks whose complexity can make them difficult to build and operate. In this research, we show that enhanced micromixing can be achieved using topologically simple and easily fabricated planar 2-D microchannels by simply introducing curvature and changes in width in a prescribed manner. This is accomplished by harnessing a synergistic combination of (i) Dean vortices that arise in the vertical plane of curved channels as a consequence of an interplay between inertial, centrifugal, and viscous effects, and (ii) expansion vortices that arise in the horizontal plane due to an abrupt increase in a conduitAcA?A?s cross-sectional area. We characterize these effects using top-view imaging of aqueous streams labeled with tracer dyes and confocal microscopy of aqueous fluorescent dye streams, and by observing binding interactions between an intercalating dye and double-stranded DNA. These mixing approaches are versatile, scalable, and can be straightforwardly integrated as generic components in a variety of lab-on-a-chip systems.