Design of a microfluidic device for the measurement of the elastic modulus of deformable particles†
A microfluidic technique recently proposed in the literature to measure the interfacial tension between a liquid droplet and an immiscible suspending liquid [Hudson et al., Appl. Phys. Lett., 2005, 87, 081905], [Cabral and Hudson, Lab Chip, 2006, 6, 427] is suitably adapted to the characterization of the elastic modulus of soft particles in a continuous-flow process. A microfluidic device consisting of a cylindrical pipe with a reduction in cross-section is designed, and the deformation and velocity of incompressible elastic particles suspended in a Newtonian liquid are tracked as they move along the centerline through the constriction. Kinematic and shape information is exploited to calculate the particle's elastic modulus by means of the theory of elastic particle deformation in extensional flow. The approach is validated for different orders of magnitude of the elastic capillary number through experiments and numerical simulations.