Modelling of SAW-PDMS acoustofluidics: physical fields and particle motions influenced by different descriptions of the PDMS domain
In modelling acoustofluidic chips actuated by surface acoustic waves (SAWs) and using polydimethylsilane (PDMS) as a channel material, reduced models are often adopted to describe the acoustic behaviors of PDMS. Here, based on a standing SAW (SSAW) acoustophoresis chip, we compared three different descriptions of a PDMS chamber and looked into in-chamber physical fields and ensuing particle motion processes through finite element (FE) simulations. Specifically, the PDMS domain was considered as an elastic solid material, a non-flow fluid, and a lossy wall, respectively. The major findings include: (a) the shear waves that propagated in a solid PDMS wall did not influence the in-chamber pressure and ARF fields severely, but induced an observable difference in the acoustic streaming (AS) patterns, and distinctly changed the trajectories of polystyrene particles, especially those whose radii were below 1.5 μm; and (b) the equivalent damping coefficients were linearly dependent on the SAW frequency, characterized by a fixed loss per wavelength, indicating the wave leakage at the interface being the main source of the transmission loss of SAWs. Meanwhile, the acoustic radiation force (ARF) can be overestimated when describing PDMS as a lossy wall, especially at the bottom corners of the chamber, which could cause inaccurate predictions of the motion of big particles. Based on the damping mechanism, a rough protocol is provided for scaling of pressure fields between different models. Some suggestions for device designs and operations are also given based on the obtained findings.