Particle separation using virtual deterministic lateral displacement (vDLD)†
We present a method for sensitive and tunable particle sorting that we term virtual deterministic lateral displacement (vDLD). The vDLD system is composed of a set of interdigital transducers (IDTs) within a microfluidic chamber that produce a force field at an angle to the flow direction. Particles above a critical diameter, a function of the force induced by viscous drag and the force field, are displaced laterally along the minimum force potential lines, while smaller particles continue in the direction of the fluid flow without substantial perturbations. We demonstrate the effective separation of particles in a continuous-flow system with size sensitivity comparable or better than other previously reported microfluidic separation techniques. Separation of 5.0 μm from 6.6 μm, 6.6 μm from 7.0 μm and 300 nm from 500 nm particles are all achieved using the same device architecture. With the high sensitivity and flexibility vDLD affords we expect to find application in a wide variety of microfluidic platforms.