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Issue 44, 2017
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Off-center motion of a trapped elastic capsule in a microfluidic channel with a narrow constriction

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Abstract

Owing to their significance in capsule-related engineering and biomedical applications, a number of studies have considered the dynamics of elastic capsules flowing in constricted microchannels. However, these studies have focused on capsules moving along the channel centerline. In the present study, we numerically investigate the transient motion of an elastic capsule in a microfluidic channel with a rectangular constriction, which is initially trapped at the constriction inlet while off the channel centerline (i.e., on the channel bottom-wall). Under the push of the surrounding flow, the capsule can squeeze into the constriction, but only if the capsule deformability or the constriction size is sufficiently large. We find that the critical capillary number leading to the penetration of the capsule into the constriction is larger for off-centerline capsules compared to centered capsules. The centered capsule is stationary at the steady state when it remains stuck at the constriction; in contrast, the off-centerline capsule is not stationary but exhibits a tank-treading motion, i.e., its overall shape maintains a nonspherical shape with a protrusion into the constriction while its membrane exhibits a continuous rotation. Further, we examine the dependence of the capsule motion type, capsule deformation degree and membrane tension distribution on the capillary number (measuring the effects of flow strength and membrane mechanics) and constriction geometries (including the constriction height and width). Finally, we discuss the mechanism governing the capsule motion by analyzing the hydrodynamic forces acting on the capsule. The shear force acting on the capsule top owing to the fluid flow in the gap between the capsule top and the channel top-wall is the main source inducing the membrane tank-treading rotation.

Graphical abstract: Off-center motion of a trapped elastic capsule in a microfluidic channel with a narrow constriction

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Publication details

The article was received on 18 Jul 2017, accepted on 18 Oct 2017 and first published on 18 Oct 2017


Article type: Paper
DOI: 10.1039/C7SM01425B
Citation: Soft Matter, 2017,13, 8281-8292
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    Off-center motion of a trapped elastic capsule in a microfluidic channel with a narrow constriction

    Z. Y. Luo and B. F. Bai, Soft Matter, 2017, 13, 8281
    DOI: 10.1039/C7SM01425B

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