Submicron separation of microspheres via travelling surface acoustic waves†
Submicron separation is the segregation of particles having a diameter difference of less than one micrometre. We present an acoustofluidic particle separator with submicron separation resolution to study the continuous, label-free, and contactless separation of polystyrene (PS) particles based on their acoustofluidic parameters such as size, density, compressibility and shape. In this work, the submicron separation of PS microspheres, having a marginal size difference, is achieved inside a polydimethylsiloxane (PDMS) microfluidic channel via travelling surface acoustic waves (TSAWs). The TSAWs of different frequencies (200, 192, 155, and 129 MHz), propagating normal to the fluid flow direction inside the PDMS microchannel, realized continuous separation of particles with a diameter difference as low as 200 nm. A theoretical framework based on the rigid and elastic theories is presented to support the experimental results.