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Keywords:

  • microfluidics;
  • lab-on-chip;
  • inertial focusing;
  • flow systems

Abstract

Matching the scale of microfluidic flow systems with that of microelectronic chips for realizing monolithically integrated systems still needs to be accomplished. However, this is appealing only if such re-scaling does not compromise the fluidic throughput. This is related to the fact that the cost of microelectronic circuits primarily depends on the layout footprint, while the performance of many microfluidic systems, like flow cytometers, is measured by the throughput. The simple operation of inertial particle focusing makes it a promising technique for use in such integrated flow cytometer applications, however, microfluidic footprints demonstrated so far preclude monolithic integration. Here, the scaling limits of throughput-per-footprint (TPFP) in using inertial focusing are explored by studying the interplay between theory, the effect of channel Reynolds numbers up to 1500 on focusing, the entry length for the laminar flow to develop, and pressure resistance of the microchannels. Inertial particle focusing is demonstrated with a TPFP up to 0.3 L/(min cm2) in high aspect-ratio rectangular microfluidic channels that are readily fabricated with a post-CMOS integratable process, suggesting at least a 100-fold improvement compared to previously demonstrated techniques. Not only can this be an enabling technology for realizing cost-effective monolithically integrated flow cytometry devices, but the methodology represented here can also open perspectives for miniaturization of many biomedical microfluidic applications requiring monolithic integration with microelectronics without compromising the throughput.