Microfluidics and Nanofluidics

, Volume 13, Issue 2, pp 227–237 | Cite as

Visualization and measurement of capillary-driven blood flow using spectral domain optical coherence tomography

  • Salvatore Cito
  • Yeh-Chan Ahn
  • Jordi PallaresEmail author
  • Rodrigo Martinez Duarte
  • Zhongping Chen
  • Marc Madou
  • Ioanis Katakis
Research Paper


Capillary-driven flow (CD-flow) in microchannels plays an important role in many microfluidic devices. These devices, the most popular being those based in lateral flow, are becoming increasingly used in health care and diagnostic applications. CD-flow can passively pump biological fluids as blood, serum or plasma, in microchannels and it can enhance the wall mass transfer by exploiting the convective effects of the flow behind the meniscus. The flow behind the meniscus has not been experimentally identified up to now because of the lack of high-resolution, non-invasive, cross-sectional imaging means. In this study, spectral-domain Doppler optical coherence tomography is used to visualize and measure the flow behind the meniscus in CD-flows of water and blood. Microchannels of polydimethylsiloxane and glass with different cross-sections are considered. The predictions of the flow behind the meniscus of numerical simulations using the power-law model for non-Newtonian fluids are in reasonable agreement with the measurements using blood as working fluid. The extension of the Lucas–Washburn equation to non-Newtonian power-law fluids predicts well the velocity of the meniscus of the experiments using blood.


Capillary-driven flow Blood flow Microchannel Optical coherence tomography Non-Newtonian fluid 

List of symbols


Diameter of the circular cross-section microchannel (m)


Height of rectangular cross-section microchannel (m)


Fluid consistency coefficient (see Eq. 3)


Length (m)


Flow behavior index


Radius of the microchannel (m)


Time (s)


Velocity component (m s−1)


Velocity (m s−1)


Width of the rectangular cross-section microchannel (m)

x, y, z, X, Y, Z

Cartesian coordinates (m)

Greek letters


Tilting angle


Contact angle


Dynamic viscosity (kg m−1 s−1)


Kinematic viscosity (m2 s−1)


Apparent viscosity (kg m−1 s−1)


Surface tension (N m−1)

\( \dot{\gamma }_{\text{ij}} \)

Rate-of-strain tensor (s−1)


Viscous stress tensor (N m−2)

Subindexes and superindexes







This work has been supported by the European Community specific RTD IST-2002-1001837 HEALTHY AIM, IST-1007-2-216031 CD-MEDICS, the National Research Foundation of Korea through the project (2011-0006286) and WCU (World Class University) program (R32-2008-000-20054-0), the National Institutes of Health (EB-00293, NCI-91717, RR-01192), and the Air Force Office of Scientific Research (FA9550-04-1-0101). The economic support of the Spanish Ministry of Science under project DPI2010-17212 is acknowledged. The authors thank the staff at the Integrated Nanosystems Research Facility (INRF) in UC Irvine for their support during the fabrication of the microchannels. Institutional support from the Beckman Laser Institute Endowment is also gratefully acknowledged.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  • Salvatore Cito
    • 1
    • 2
  • Yeh-Chan Ahn
    • 3
  • Jordi Pallares
    • 1
    Email author
  • Rodrigo Martinez Duarte
    • 4
  • Zhongping Chen
    • 5
    • 6
  • Marc Madou
    • 4
    • 6
  • Ioanis Katakis
    • 2
  1. 1.Department of Mechanical EngineeringUniversity Rovira i VirgiliTarragonaSpain
  2. 2.Department of Chemical EngineeringUniversity Rovira i VirgiliTarragonaSpain
  3. 3.Department of Biomedical EngineeringPukyong National UniversityBusanSouth Korea
  4. 4.Department of Mechanical and Aerospace EngineeringUniversity of CaliforniaIrvineUSA
  5. 5.Department of Biomedical Engineering, Beckman Laser InstituteUniversity of CaliforniaIrvineUSA
  6. 6.World Class University ProgramUlsan National Institute of Science and TechnologyUlsanSouth Korea

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