Mixing is a basic but challenging step to achieve in high throughput microfluidic applications such as organic synthesis or production of particles. A common approach to improve micromixer performance is to devise a single component that enhances mixing through optimal convection, and then sequence multiple such units back-to-back to enhance overall mixing at the end of the sequence. However, the mixing units are often optimized only for the initial non-mixed fluid composition, which is no longer the input condition for each subsequent unit. Thus, there is no guarantee that simply repeating a single mixing unit will achieve optimally mixed fluid flow at the end of the sequence. In this work, we analyzed sequences of 20 cylindrical obstacles, or pillars, to optimize the mixing in the inertial regime (where mixing is more difficult due to higher Péclet number) by managing their interdependent convection operations on the composition of the fluid. Exploiting a software for microfluidic design optimization called FlowSculpt, we predicted and optimized the interfacial stretching of two co-flowing fluids, neglecting diffusive effects. We were able to quickly design three different optimal pillar sequences through a space of 32^(20) possible combinations of pillars. As proof of concept, we tested the new passive mixer designs using confocal microscopy and full 3D CFD simulations for high Péclet numbers (Pe ≈O(10^(5-6)), observing fluid flow shape and mixing index at several cross-sections, reaching mixing efficiencies around 80%. Furthermore, we investigated the effect of the inter-pillar spacing on the most optimal design, quantifying the tradeoff between mixing performance and hydraulic resistance. These micromixer designs and the framework for the design in inertial regimes can be used for various applications, such as lipid nanoparticle fabrication which has been of great importance in vaccine scale up during the pandemic.

Optimized design of obstacle sequences for microfluidic mixing in an inertial regime

Matteo Antognoli
Primo
;
Chiara Galletti;Elisabetta Brunazzi
Penultimo
;
2021-01-01

Abstract

Mixing is a basic but challenging step to achieve in high throughput microfluidic applications such as organic synthesis or production of particles. A common approach to improve micromixer performance is to devise a single component that enhances mixing through optimal convection, and then sequence multiple such units back-to-back to enhance overall mixing at the end of the sequence. However, the mixing units are often optimized only for the initial non-mixed fluid composition, which is no longer the input condition for each subsequent unit. Thus, there is no guarantee that simply repeating a single mixing unit will achieve optimally mixed fluid flow at the end of the sequence. In this work, we analyzed sequences of 20 cylindrical obstacles, or pillars, to optimize the mixing in the inertial regime (where mixing is more difficult due to higher Péclet number) by managing their interdependent convection operations on the composition of the fluid. Exploiting a software for microfluidic design optimization called FlowSculpt, we predicted and optimized the interfacial stretching of two co-flowing fluids, neglecting diffusive effects. We were able to quickly design three different optimal pillar sequences through a space of 32^(20) possible combinations of pillars. As proof of concept, we tested the new passive mixer designs using confocal microscopy and full 3D CFD simulations for high Péclet numbers (Pe ≈O(10^(5-6)), observing fluid flow shape and mixing index at several cross-sections, reaching mixing efficiencies around 80%. Furthermore, we investigated the effect of the inter-pillar spacing on the most optimal design, quantifying the tradeoff between mixing performance and hydraulic resistance. These micromixer designs and the framework for the design in inertial regimes can be used for various applications, such as lipid nanoparticle fabrication which has been of great importance in vaccine scale up during the pandemic.
2021
Antognoli, Matteo; Stoecklein, Daniel; Galletti, Chiara; Brunazzi, Elisabetta; Di Carlo, Dino
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Utilizza questo identificativo per citare o creare un link a questo documento: https://hdl.handle.net/11568/1119449
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