Engineering droplet navigation through tertiary-junction microchannels

Abstract

We present an experimental and in silico investigation of path selection by a single droplet inside a tertiary-junction microchannel using oil-in-water as a model system. The droplet was generated at a T-junction inside a microfluidic chip, and its flow behavior as a function of droplet size, streamline position, viscosity, and Reynolds number (Re) of the continuous phase was studied downstream at a tertiary junction having perpendicular channels of uniform square cross section and internal fluidic resistance proportional to their lengths. Numerical studies were performed using the multicomponent lattice Boltzmann method. Both the experimental and numerical results showed good agreement and suggested that at higher Re equal to 3, the flow was dominated by inertial forces resulting in the droplets choosing a path based on their center position in the flow streamline. At lower Re of 0.3, the streamline-assisted path selection became viscous force-assisted above a critical droplet size. As the Re was further reduced to 0.03, or when the viscosity of the dispersed phase was increased, the critical droplet size for transition also decreased. This multivariate approach can in future be used to engineer sorting of cells, e.g., circulating tumor cells (CTCs) allowing early-stage detection of life-threatening diseases.

This is a preview of subscription content, log in to check access.

Fig. 1
Fig. 2
Fig. 3
Fig. 4
Fig. 5

References

  1. Amon A, Schmit A, Salkin L, Courbin L, Panizza P (2013) Path selection rules for droplet trains in single-lane microfluidic networks. Phys Rev E 88:013012

    Article  Google Scholar 

  2. Baroud CN, Gallaire F, Dangla R (2010) Dynamics of microfluidic droplets. Lab Chip 10:2032–2045

    Article  Google Scholar 

  3. Belloul M, Courbin L, Panizza P (2011) Droplet traffic regulated by collisions in microfluidic networks. Soft Matter 7:9453–9458

    Article  Google Scholar 

  4. Bruus H (2007) Theoretical microfluidics. OUP Oxford, Oxford

    Google Scholar 

  5. Choi W, Hashimoto M, Ellerbee AK, Chen X, Bishop KJM, Garstecki P, Stone HA, Whitesides GM (2011) Bubbles navigating through networks of microchannels. Lab Chip 11:3970–3978

    Article  Google Scholar 

  6. Christopher GF, Noharuddin NN, Taylor JA, Anna SL (2008) Experimental observations of the squeezing-to-dripping transition in T-shaped microfluidic junction. Phys Rev E 78:036317

    Article  Google Scholar 

  7. Churski K, Michalski J, Garstecki P (2010) Droplet on demand system utilizing a computer controlled microvalve integrated into a stiff polymeric microfluidic device. Lab Chip 10:512–518

    Article  Google Scholar 

  8. Doh I, Erdem EY, Pisano AP (2012) Trapping and collection of uniform size droplets using a well array inside a microchannel. In: IEEE 25th International Conference Micro Electro Mechanical Systems, pp. 1113–1116

  9. Fu T, Ma Y, Funfschilling D, Zhu C, Li HZ (2010) Squeezing-to-dripping transition for bubble formation in a microfluidic T-junction. Chem Eng Sci 65:3739–3748

    Article  Google Scholar 

  10. Garstecki P, Fuerstman MJ, Stone HA, Whitesides GM (2006) Formation of droplets and bubbles in a microfluidic T-junction scaling and mechanism of break-up. Lab Chip 6:437–446

    Article  Google Scholar 

  11. Glawdel T, Elbuken C, Ren CL (2012) Droplet formation in microfluidic T-junction generators operating in the transitional regime I experimental observations. Phys Rev E 85:016322

    Article  Google Scholar 

  12. Hetsroni G, Haber S (1970) The flow in and around a droplet or bubble submerged in an unbound arbitrary velocity field. Rheol Acta 9:488–496

    Article  MATH  Google Scholar 

  13. Huebner A, Bratton D, Whyte G, Yang M, Demello AJ, Abell C, Hollfelder F (2009) Static microdroplet arrays: a microfluidic device for droplet trapping, incubation and release for enzymatic and cell-based assays. Lab Chip 9:692–698

    Article  Google Scholar 

  14. Husny J, Cooper-White JJ (2006) The effect of elasticity on drop creation in T-shaped microchannels. J Non-Newton Fluid Mech 137:121–136

    Article  Google Scholar 

  15. Jeong H-H, Lee B, Jin SH, Jeong S-G, Lee C-S (2016) A highly addressable static droplet array enabling digital control of a single droplet at pico-volume resolution. Lab Chip 16:1698–1707

    Article  Google Scholar 

  16. Jousse F, Farr R, Link DR, Fuerstman MJ, Garstecki P (2006) Bifurcation of droplet flows within capillaries. Phys Rev E 74:036311

    Article  Google Scholar 

  17. Karabcak NM et al (2014) Microfluidic, marker-free isolation of circulating tumor cells from blood samples. Nat Protocol 9:694–710

    Article  Google Scholar 

  18. Lee YW (2013) Novel design of integrated microfluidic thermal system with self-assembling magnetic particles for electronic cooling. Microelectron Eng 111:285–288

    Article  Google Scholar 

  19. Li XB, Li FC, Yang JC, Kinoshita H, Oishi M, Oshima M (2012) Study on the mechanism of droplet formation in T-junction microchannel. Chem Eng Sci 69:340–351

    Article  Google Scholar 

  20. Link DR, Anna SL, Weitz DA, Stone HA (2004) Geometrically mediated breakup of drops in microfluidic devices. Phys Rev Lett 92:054503

    Article  Google Scholar 

  21. Liu H, Zhang Y (2009) Droplet formation in a T-shaped microfluidic junction. A Phys 106:034906

    Google Scholar 

  22. Ma S, Sherwood JM, Huck WTS, Balabani S (2014) On the flow topology inside droplets moving in rectangular microchannels. Lab Chip 14:3611–3620

    Article  Google Scholar 

  23. Moon JY, Kondaraju S, Choi W, Lee JS (2014) Lattice Boltzmann-immersed boundary approach for vesicle navigation in microfluidic channel networks. Microfluid Nanofluidics 17:1061–1070

    Article  Google Scholar 

  24. Mortazavi S, Tryggvason G (2000) A numerical study of the motion of drops in Poiseuille flow. Part 1. Lateral migration of one drop. J Fluid Mech 411:325–350

    Article  MATH  Google Scholar 

  25. Mugele F, Duits M, Ende DVD (2010) Electrowetting: a versatile tool for drop manipulation, generation and characterization. Adv Colloid Interface Sci 161:115–123

    Article  Google Scholar 

  26. National Center for Biotechnology Information. PubChem Compound Database; CID = 3423265. https://pubchem.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/compound/3423265. Accessed 29 Sept 2015

  27. National Center for Biotechnology Information. PubChem Compound Database; CID = 443314. https://pubchem.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/compound/443314. Accessed 29 Sept 2015

  28. Niu X, Gulati S, Edel JB, deMello AJ (2008) Pillar-induced droplet merging in microfluidic circuits. Lab Chip 8:1837–1841

    Article  Google Scholar 

  29. Oh KW, Lee K, Ahn B, Furlani EP (2012) Design of pressure-driven microfluidic networks using electric circuit analogy. Lab Chip 12:515–545

    Article  Google Scholar 

  30. Sang L, Hong Y, Wang F (2009) Investigation of viscosity effect on droplet formation in T-shaped microchannels by numerical and analytical methods. Microfluid Nanofluidics 6:621–635

    Article  Google Scholar 

  31. Schindler M, Ajdari A (2008) Droplet traffic in microfluidic networks: a simple model for understanding and designing. Phys Rev Lett 100:044501

    Article  Google Scholar 

  32. Sessoms DA, Belloul M, Engl W, Roche M, Courbin L, Panizza P (2009) Droplet motion in microfluidic networks: hydrodynamic interactions and pressure-drop measurements. Phys Rev E 80:016317

    Article  Google Scholar 

  33. Shi Y, Tang GH, Xia HH (2014) Lattice Boltzmann simulation of droplet formation in T-junction and flow focussing devices. Comput Fluids 90:155–163

    MathSciNet  Article  Google Scholar 

  34. Shields CW, Reyes CD, Lopez GP (2015) Microfluidic cell sorting: a review of the advances in the separation of cells from debulking to rare cell isolation. Lab Chip 15:1230–1249

    Article  Google Scholar 

  35. Tan YC, Fisher JS, Lee AI, Cristini V, Lee AP (2004) Design of microfluidic channel geometries for the control of droplet volume, chemical concentration, and sorting. Lab Chip 4:292–298

    Article  Google Scholar 

  36. Tan YC, Ho YL, Lee AP (2008) Microfluidic sorting of droplets by size. Microfluid Nanofluidics 4:343–348

    Article  Google Scholar 

  37. Teh SY, Lin R, Hung LH, Lee AP (2008) Droplet microfluidics. Lab Chip 8:198–220

    Article  Google Scholar 

  38. Tostado CP, Xu J, Luo G (2011) The effects of hydrophilic surfactant concentration and flow ratio on dynamic wetting in a T-junction microfluidic device. Chem Eng J 171:1340–1347

    Article  Google Scholar 

  39. Velev OD, Prevo BG, Bhatt KH (2003) On-chip manipulation of free droplets. Nature 426:515–516

    Article  Google Scholar 

  40. Xu JH, Li SW, Tan J, Luo GS (2008) Correlations of droplet formation in T-junction microfluidic devices: from squeezing to dripping. Microfluid Nanofluidics 5:711–717

    Article  Google Scholar 

  41. Yamamoto K, Ogata S (2013) Effects of T-junction size on bubble generation and flow instability for two phase flows in circular microchannels. Int J Multiph Flow 49:24–30

    Article  Google Scholar 

  42. Yan Y, Guo D, Wen SZ (2012) Numerical simulation of junction point pressure during droplet formation in a microfluidic T-junction. Chem Eng Sci 84:591–601

    Article  Google Scholar 

  43. Yang CG, Xu ZR, Wang JH (2010) Manipulation of droplets in microfluidic systems. TrAC Trends Anal Chem 29:141–157

    Article  Google Scholar 

  44. Zakinyan A, Nechaeva O, Dikansky Y (2012) Motion of a deformable drop of magnetic fluid on a solid surface in a rotating magnetic field. Exp Therm Fluid Sci 39:265–268

    Article  Google Scholar 

Download references

Acknowledgements

We thank the Asian Office of Aerospace Research and Development (AOARD, Grant No. FA2386-15-1-4031) for providing the necessary funds to carry out this research. We are grateful to Prof. Rajesh Khanna for helping with the tensiometer experiments. SK acknowledges his DST INSPIRE fellowship.

Author information

Affiliations

Authors

Corresponding author

Correspondence to S. Gupta.

Electronic supplementary material

Below is the link to the electronic supplementary material.

Supplementary material 1 (PDF 962 kb)

Rights and permissions

Reprints and Permissions

About this article

Verify currency and authenticity via CrossMark

Cite this article

Baig, M., Jain, S., Gupta, S. et al. Engineering droplet navigation through tertiary-junction microchannels. Microfluid Nanofluid 20, 165 (2016). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10404-016-1828-9

Download citation

Keywords

  • Tertiary-junction
  • Droplet microfluidics
  • Droplet sorting
  • Lattice-Boltzmann
  • Path selection