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Viscoelastic Particle Train Formation in Microfluidic Flows Using a Xanthan Gum Aqueous Solution
Analytical Chemistry, Volume: 93, Issue: 13, Pages: 5503 - 5512
Swansea University Author: Francesco Del Giudice
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Viscoelastic polymer solutions have been widely employed as suspending liquids for a myriad of microfluidic applications including particle and cell focusing, sorting, and encapsulation. It has been recently shown that viscoelastic solutions can drive the formation of equally spaced particles called...
|Published in:||Analytical Chemistry|
American Chemical Society (ACS)
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Viscoelastic polymer solutions have been widely employed as suspending liquids for a myriad of microfluidic applications including particle and cell focusing, sorting, and encapsulation. It has been recently shown that viscoelastic solutions can drive the formation of equally spaced particles called "particle trains"as a result of the viscoelasticity-mediated hydrodynamic interactions between adjacent particles. Despite their potential impact on applications such as droplet encapsulation and flow cytometry, only limited experimental studies on viscoelastic ordering are currently available. In this work, we demonstrate that a viscoelastic shear-thinning aqueous xanthan gum solution drives the self-assembly of particle trains on the centerline of a serpentine microfluidic device with a nearly circular cross section. After focusing, the flowing particles change their mutual distance and organize in aligned structures characterized by a preferential spacing, quantified in terms of distributions of the interparticle distance. We observe the occurrence of multi-particle strings, mainly doublets and triplets, that interrupt the continuity of the particle train. To account for the fluctuations in the number of flowing particles in the experimental window, we introduce the concept of local particle concentration, observing that an increase of the local particle concentration leads to an increase of doublets and triplets. We also demonstrate that using only a single tube to connect the sample to the microfluidic device results in a drastic reduction of doublets/triplets, thus leading to a more uniform particle train. Our findings establish the foundation for optimized applications such as deterministic droplet encapsulation in viscoelastic liquids and optimized flow cytometry.
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