Experimental investigation and computational modeling of hydrodynamics in bifurcating microchannels
Methods involving microfluidics have been used in several chemical, biological and medical applications. In particular, a network of bifurcating microchannels can be used to distribute flow in a large space. In this work, we carried out experiments to determine hydrodynamic characteristics of bifurcating microfluidic networks. We measured pressure drop across bifurcating networks of various complexities for various flow rates. We also measured planar velocity fields in these networks by using particle image velocimetry. We further analyzed hydrodynamics in these networks using mathematical and computational modeling. Our results show that the experimental frictional resistances of complex bifurcating microchannels are 25–30% greater than that predicted by Navier–Stokes equations. Experimentally measured velocity profiles indicate that flow distributes equally at a bifurcation regardless of the complexity of the network. Flow division other than bifurcation such as trifurcation or quadruplication can lead to heterogeneities. These findings were verified by the results from the numerical simulations.
KeywordsMicrofluidics Flow visualization Transport Fluid dynamics Optimal transport Frictional losses Velocity distribution Biotransport Particle image velocimetry Capillary flow
This work is supported by a grant from the National Institutes of Health (EB006203). The authors are thankful to Dr. Jean F. Welter for the use of COMSOL.
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