Sorting microparticles (or cells, or bacteria) is significant for scientific, medical and industrial purposes. Research groups have used lithium niobate SAW devices to produce standing waves, and then to align microparticles at the node lines in polydimethylsiloxane (PDMS, silicone) microfluidic channels. The “tilted angle” (skewed) configuration is a recent breakthrough producing particle trajectories that cross multiple node lines, making it practical to sort particles. However, lithium niobate wafers and PDMS microfluidic channels are not mechanically robust. We demonstrate “tilted angle” microparticle sorting in novel devices that are robust, rapidly prototyped, and manufacturable. We form our microfluidic system in a rigid polymethyl methacrylate (PMMA, acrylic) prism, sandwiched by lead-zirconium-titanate (PZT) wafers, operating in through-thickness mode with inertial backing, that produce standing bulk waves. The overall configuration is compact and mechanically robust, and actuating PZT wafers in through-thickness mode is highly efficient. Moving to this novel configuration introduced new acoustics questions involving internal reflections, but we show experimental images confirming the intended nodal geometry. Microparticles in “tilted angle” devices display undulating trajectories, where deviation from the straight path increases with particle diameter and with excitation voltage to create the mechanism by which particles are sorted. We show a simplified analytical model by which a “phase space” is constructed to characterize effective particle sorting, and we compare our experimental data to the predictions from that simplified model; precise correlation is not expected and is not observed, but the important physical trends from the model are paralleled in the measured particle trajectories.
Erin R. Dauson, Kelvin B. Gregory, David W. Greve, Gregory P. Healy, and Irving J. Oppenheim, "Mechanically robust microfluidics and bulk wave acoustics to sort microparticles," Proc. SPIE 9805, Health Monitoring of Structural and Biological Systems 2016, 98051I (Presented at SPIE Smart Structures and Materials + Nondestructive Evaluation and Health Monitoring: March 23, 2016; Published: 1 April 2016); https://doi.org/10.1117/12.2214394.
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