A neural network-based algorithm for high-throughput characterisation of viscoelastic properties of flowing microcapsules
Microcapsules, consisting of a liquid droplet enclosed by a viscoelastic membrane, have a wide range of biomedical and pharmaceutical applications and also serve as a popular mechanical model for biological cells. In this study, we develop a novel high throughput approach, by combining a machine learning method with a high-fidelity mechanistic capsule model, to accurately predict the membrane elasticity and viscosity of microcapsules from their dynamic deformation when flowing in a branched microchannel. The machine learning method consists of a deep convolutional neural network (DCNN) connected by a long short-term memory (LSTM) network. We demonstrate that with a superior prediction accuracy the present hybrid DCNN-LSTM network can still be faster than a conventional inverse method by five orders of magnitude, and can process thousands of capsules per second. We also show that the hybrid network has fewer restrictions compared with a simple DCNN.