Investigating the fluid dynamics of rapid processes within microfluidic devices using bright-field microscopy
The widespread application of microfluidic devices in the biological and chemical sciences requires the implementation of complex designs and geometries, which in turn leads to atypical fluid dynamic phenomena. Accordingly, a complete understanding of fluid dynamics in such systems is key in the facile engineering of novel and efficient analytical tools. Herein, we present an accurate approach for studying the fluid dynamics of rapid processes within microfluidic devices using bright-field microscopy with white light illumination and a standard high-speed camera. Specifically, we combine Ghost Particle Velocimetry and the detection of moving objects in automated video surveillance to track submicron size tracing particles via cross correlation between the speckle patterns of successive images. The efficacy of the presented technique is demonstrated by measuring the flow field over a square pillar (80 μm × 80 μm) in a 200 μm wide microchannel at high volumetric flow rates. Experimental results are in excellent agreement with those obtained via computational fluid dynamics simulations. The method is subsequently used to study the dynamics of droplet generation at a flow focusing microfluidic geometry. A unique feature of the presented technique is the ability to perform velocimetry analysis of high-speed phenomena, which is not possible using micron-resolution particle image velocimetry (μPIV) approaches based on confocal or fluorescence microscopy.