Effect of channel geometry on solute dispersion in pressure-driven microfluidic systems


Subjects: Theory

Pressure-driven transport of fluid and solute samples is often desirable in microfluidic devices, particularly where sufficient electroosmotic flow rates cannot be realized or the use of an electric field is restricted. Unfortunately, this mode of actuation also leads to hydrodynamic dispersion due to the inherent fluid shear in the system. While such dispersivity is known to scale with the square of the Peclet number based on the narrower dimension of the conduit (often the channel depth), the proportionality constant can vary significantly depending on its actual cross section. In this article, we review previous studies to understand the effect of commonly microfabricated channel cross sections on the Taylor–Aris dispersion of solute slugs in simple pressure-driven flow systems. We also analyze some recently proposed optimum designs which can reduce the contribution to this band broadening arising from the presence of the channel sidewalls. Finally, new simulation results have been presented in the last section of this paper which describe solutal spreading due to bowing of microchannels that can occur from stresses developed during their fabrication or operation under high-pressure conditions.