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UBC Theses and Dissertations

A three-dimensional (3D) defocusing-based particle tracking method and applications to inertial focusing in microfluidic devices Winer, Michael Hubert


Three-dimensional analysis of particles in flows within microfluidic devices is a necessary technique in the majority of current microfluidics research. One method that allows for accurate determination of particle positions in channels is defocusing-based optical detection. This thesis investigates the use of the defocusing method for particles ranging in size from 2-18 μm without the use of a three-hole aperture. Using a calibration-based analysis motivated by previous work, we were able to relate the particle position in space to its apparent size in an image. This defocusing method was then employed in several studies in order to validate its effectiveness in a wide range of particle/flow profiles. An initial study of gravitational effects on particles in low Reynolds number flows was conducted, showing that the method is accurate for particles with sizes equal to or greater than approximately 2 μm. We also found that the resolution of particle position accuracy was within 1 μm of expected theoretical results. Further studies were conducted in inertial focusing conditions, where viscous drag and inertial lift forces balance to create unique particle focusing positions in straight channels. Steady-state inertial studies in both rectangular and cylindrical channel geometries showed focusing of particles to positions similar to previous work, further verifying the defocusing method. A new regime of inertial focusing, coined transient flow, was also investigated with the use of the 3D defocusing method. This study established new regimes of particle focusing due to the effects of a transient flow on inertial forces. Within the transient study, the effects of fluid and particle density on particle focusing positions were also investigated. Finally, we provide recommendations for future work on the defocusing method and transient flows, including potential applications.

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Attribution-NoDerivs 2.5 Canada