Continuous inertial microparticle and blood cell separation in straight channels with local microstructures†
Fluid inertia which has conventionally been neglected in microfluidics has been gaining much attention for particle and cell manipulation because inertia-based methods inherently provide simple, passive, precise and high-throughput characteristics. Particularly, the inertial approach has been applied to blood separation for various biomedical research studies mainly using spiral microchannels. For higher throughput, parallelization is essential; however, it is difficult to realize using spiral channels because of their large two dimensional layouts. In this work, we present a novel inertial platform for continuous sheathless particle and blood cell separation in straight microchannels containing microstructures. Microstructures within straight channels exert secondary flows to manipulate particle positions similar to Dean flow in curved channels but with higher controllability. Through a balance between inertial lift force and microstructure-induced secondary flow, we deterministically position microspheres and cells based on their sizes to be separated downstream. Using our inertial platform, we successfully sorted microparticles and fractionized blood cells with high separation efficiencies, high purities and high throughputs. The inertial separation platform developed here can be operated to process diluted blood with a throughput of 10.8 mL min−1via radially arrayed single channels with one inlet and two rings of outlets.