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Issue 22, 2012
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Cruise control for segmented flow

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Capitalizing on the benefits of microscale segmented flows, e.g., enhanced mixing and reduced sample dispersion, so far requires specialist training and accommodating a few experimental inconveniences. For instance, microscale gas–liquid flows in many current setups take at least 10 min to stabilize and iterative manual adjustments are needed to achieve or maintain desired mixing or residence times. Here, we report a cruise control strategy that overcomes these limitations and allows microscale gas–liquid (bubble) and liquid–liquid (droplet) flow conditions to be rapidly “adjusted” and maintained. Using this strategy we consistently establish bubble and droplet flows with dispersed phase (plug) velocities of 5–300 mm s−1, plug lengths of 0.6–5 mm and continuous phase (slug) lengths of 0.5–3 mm. The mixing times (1–5 s), mass transfer times (33–250 ms) and residence times (3–300 s) can therefore be directly imposed by dynamically controlling the supply of the dispersed and the continuous liquids either from external pumps or from local pressurized reservoirs. In the latter case, no chip-external pumps, liquid-perfused tubes or valves are necessary while unwanted dead volumes are significantly reduced.

Graphical abstract: Cruise control for segmented flow

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Article information

04 May 2012
17 Aug 2012
First published
20 Aug 2012

Lab Chip, 2012,12, 4787-4795
Article type

Cruise control for segmented flow

M. Abolhasani, M. Singh, E. Kumacheva and A. Günther, Lab Chip, 2012, 12, 4787
DOI: 10.1039/C2LC40513J

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