Dean-flow-coupled elasto-inertial particle and cell focusing in symmetric serpentine microchannels

  • Dan Yuan
  • Ronald Sluyter
  • Qianbin Zhao
  • Shiyang Tang
  • Sheng Yan
  • Guolin Yun
  • Ming Li
  • Jun ZhangEmail author
  • Weihua LiEmail author
Research Paper
Part of the following topical collections:
  1. Particle motion in non-Newtonian microfluidics


This work investigates particle focusing under Dean-flow-coupled elasto-inertial effects in symmetric serpentine microchannels. A small amount of polymers were added to the sample solution to tune the fluid elasticity, and allow particles to migrate laterally and reach their equilibriums at the centerline of a symmetric serpentine channel under the synthesis effect of elastic, inertial and Dean-flow forces. First, the effects of the flow rates on particle focusing in viscoelastic fluid in serpentine channels were investigated. Then, comparisons with particle focusing in the Newtonian fluid in the serpentine channel and in the viscoelastic fluid in the straight channel were conducted. The elastic effect and the serpentine channel structure could accelerate the particle focusing as well as reduce the channel length. This focusing technique has the potential as a pre-ordering unit in flow cytometry for cell counting, sorting, and analysis. Moreover, focusing behaviour of Jurkat cells in the viscoelastic fluid in this serpentine channel was studied. Finally, the cell viability in the culture medium containing a dissolved polymer and after processing through the serpentine channel was tested. The polymer within this viscoelastic fluid has a negligible effect on cell viability.


Viscoelastic fluid Dean-flow-coupled elasto-inertial effects Viscoelastic force Cell viability 



This work is supported by the National Natural Science Foundation of China (Grant no. 51705257), the Australian Research Council (ARC) Discovery Project (Grant no. DP180100055), and the Natural Science Foundation of Jiangsu Province (Grant no. BK20170839).

Compliance with ethical standards

Conflict of interest

The authors have declared no conflict of interest.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag GmbH Germany, part of Springer Nature 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.School of Mechanical, Materials, Mechatronic and Biomedical EngineeringUniversity of WollongongWollongongAustralia
  2. 2.School of Biological SciencesUniversity of WollongongWollongongAustralia
  3. 3.Illawarra Health and Medical Research InstituteWollongongAustralia
  4. 4.Department of ChemistryUniversity of TokyoTokyoJapan
  5. 5.School of EngineeringMacquarie UniversitySydneyAustralia
  6. 6.Queensland Micro and Nanotechnology CentreGriffith UniversityBrisbaneAustralia

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