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

174 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

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
We thank Bashar Hamza for his cell culture work, Bavand Keshavarz for rheological measurements of test fluids and Patrick Nash for assembling the fluidic circuit. We also thank Octavio Hurtado and A.J. Aranyosi for the coordination of the research lab and guidance. This work was supported in part by the National Institutes of Biomedical Imaging and Bioengineering (P41 BioMicroElectroMechanical Systems Resource Center, P41 EB002503). T.J.O. acknowledges the NSF Graduate Research Fellowship for funding. P.S.D. and K.W.B. were supported by the Institute for Collaborative Biotechnologies through grant W911NF-09-0001 from the U.S. Army Research Office. The content of the information does not necessarily reflect the position or the policy of the Government, and no official endorsement should be inferred.

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Chemistry
  • General Biochemistry,Genetics and Molecular Biology
  • General Physics and Astronomy


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