Engineering fluid flow using sequenced microstructures
Di Carlo, Dino
Controlling the shape of fluid streams is important across scales: from industrial processing to control of biomolecular interactions. Previous approaches to control fluid streams have focused mainly on creating chaotic flows to enhance mixing. Here we develop an approach to apply order using sequences of fluid transformations rather than enhancing chaos. We investigate the inertial flow deformations around a library of single cylindrical pillars within a microfluidic channel and assemble these net fluid transformations to engineer fluid streams. As these transformations provide a deterministic mapping of fluid elements from upstream to downstream of a pillar, we can sequentially arrange pillars to apply the associated nested maps and, therefore, create complex fluid structures without additional numerical simulation. To show the range of capabilities, we present sequences that sculpt the cross-sectional shape of a stream into complex geometries, move and split a fluid stream, perform solution exchange and achieve particle separation. A general strategy to engineer fluid streams into a broad class of defined configurations in which the complexity of the nonlinear equations of fluid motion are abstracted from the user is a first step to programming streams of any desired shape, which would be useful for biological, chemical and materials automation.