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Microfluidics is the study of fluid flow at very small scales (micro -- one millionth of a meter) and is prevalent in many areas of science and engineering. Typical applications

Microfluidics is the study of fluid flow at very small scales (micro -- one millionth of a meter) and is prevalent in many areas of science and engineering. Typical applications include lab-on-a-chip devices, microfluidic fuel cells, and DNA separation technologies. Many of these microfluidic devices rely on micron-resolution velocimetry measurements to improve microchannel design and characterize existing devices. Methods such as micro particle imaging velocimetry (microPIV) and micro particle tracking velocimetry (microPTV) are mature and established methods for characterization of steady 2D flow fields. Increasingly complex microdevices require techniques that measure unsteady and/or three dimensional velocity fields. This dissertation presents a method for three-dimensional velocimetry of unsteady microflows based on spinning disk confocal microscopy and depth scanning of a microvolume. High-speed 2D unsteady velocity fields are resolved by acquiring images of particle motion using a high-speed CMOS camera and confocal microscope. The confocal microscope spatially filters out of focus light using a rotating disk of pinholes placed in the imaging path, improving the ability of the system to resolve unsteady microPIV measurements by improving the image and correlation signal to noise ratio. For 3D3C measurements, a piezo-actuated objective positioner quickly scans the depth of the microvolume and collects 2D image slices, which are stacked into 3D images. Super resolution microPIV interrogates these 3D images using microPIV as a predictor field for tracking individual particles with microPTV. The 3D3C diagnostic is demonstrated by measuring a pressure driven flow in a three-dimensional expanding microchannel. The experimental velocimetry data acquired at 30 Hz with instantaneous spatial resolution of 4.5 by 4.5 by 4.5 microns agrees well with a computational model of the flow field. The technique allows for isosurface visualization of time resolved 3D3C particle motion and high spatial resolution velocity measurements without requiring a calibration step or reconstruction algorithms. Several applications are investigated, including 3D quantitative fluorescence imaging of isotachophoresis plugs advecting through a microchannel and the dynamics of reaction induced colloidal crystal deposition.

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