Research Paper

Microfluidics and Nanofluidics

, Volume 14, Issue 1, pp 77-87

First online:

The influence of size, shape and vessel geometry on nanoparticle distribution

  • Jifu TanAffiliated withDepartment of Mechanical Engineering and Mechanics, Lehigh University
  • , Samar ShahAffiliated withDepartment of Mechanical Engineering and Mechanics, Lehigh University
  • , Antony ThomasAffiliated withBioengineering Program, Lehigh University
  • , H. Daniel Ou-YangAffiliated withBioengineering Program, Lehigh UniversityDepartment of Physics, Lehigh University
  • , Yaling LiuAffiliated withDepartment of Mechanical Engineering and Mechanics, Lehigh UniversityBioengineering Program, Lehigh University Email author 


Nanoparticles (NPs) are emerging as promising carrier platforms for targeted drug delivery and imaging probes. To evaluate the delivery efficiency, it is important to predict the distribution of NPs within blood vessels. NP size, shape and vessel geometry are believed to influence its biodistribution in circulation. Whereas, the effect of size on nanoparticle distribution has been extensively studied, little is known about the shape and vessel geometry effect. This paper describes a computational model for NP transport and distribution in a mimetic branched blood vessel using combined NP Brownian dynamics and continuum fluid mechanics approaches. The simulation results indicate that NPs with smaller size and rod shape have higher binding capabilities as a result of smaller drag force and larger contact area. The binding dynamics of rod-shaped NPs is found to be dependent on their initial contact points and orientations to the wall. Higher concentration of NPs is observed in the bifurcation area compared to the straight section of the branched vessel. Moreover, it is found that Péclet number plays an important role in determining the fraction of NPs deposited in the branched region and the straight section. Simulation results also indicate that NP binding decreases with increased shear rate. Dynamic NP re-distribution from low to high shear rates is observed due to the non-uniform shear stress distribution over the branched channel. This study would provide valuable information for NP distribution in a complex vascular network.


Nanoparticle distribution Shape effect Vascular network Péclet number