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Dynamics of a microchain of superparamagnetic beads in an oscillating field


The dynamics of microchains containing superparamagnetic particles in an oscillating field are studied experimentally. The chains are first formed by a static directional field, and then manipulated by an additional dynamical perpendicular field. The present methodology represents a simple reversible chaining process, whose particles can be re-dispersed after removal of the field. The motion of superparamagnetic chains is dominated by magnetic torque and induced hydrodynamic drag. The effects of key parameters, such as field strengths and the lengths of particle chains, are thoroughly analyzed. Distinct behaviors, from rigid body oscillations and bending distortions to rupture failures, are observed by increasing the amplitudes of oscillating fields or chains’ lengths. Because of lower induced drag, a shorter chain follows the field trajectory closely and oscillates more synchronically with the external field. On the other hand, the influences of field strengths are not consistent. Even the overall oscillating phase trajectory in a stronger external field deviates less significantly from the corresponding field trajectory, a stronger dynamical component of the external field results in larger phase angle lags at certain points. The experimental results confirm the criterion of ruptures can be effectively determined by the value of (N*Mn 1/2), where Mn is the Mason number defined as the ratio of induced drag to dipolar attraction, and N represents the number of particles contained in a chain.

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The financial support from the National Science Council of Republic of China (Taiwan) through Grant NSC 99-2221-E-009-057-MY3 is acknowledged.

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Correspondence to Ching-Yao Chen.

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Li, YH., Chen, CY., Sheu, ST. et al. Dynamics of a microchain of superparamagnetic beads in an oscillating field. Microfluid Nanofluid 13, 579–588 (2012).

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  • Oscillating field
  • Micro-superparamagnetic chain
  • Magnetic particle
  • Mason number