Staged inertial microfluidic focusing for complex fluid enrichment
Microfluidic inertial focusing reliably and passively aligns small particles and cells through a combination of competing inertial fluid forces. The equilibrium behavior of inertially focused particles in straight channels has been extensively characterized and has been shown to be a strong function of channel size, geometry and particle size. We demonstrate that channels of varying geometry may be combined to produce a staged device capable of high throughput particle and cell concentration and efficient single pass complex fluid enrichment. Straight and asymmetrically curved microchannels were combined in series to accelerate focusing dynamics and improve concentration efficiency. We have investigated single and multiple pass concentration efficiency and results indicate that these devices are appropriate for routine cell handling operations, including buffer exchange. We demonstrate the utility of these devices by performing a ubiquitous fluorescence staining assay on-chip while sacrificing very little sample or processing time relative to centrifugation. Staged concentration is particularly desirable for point of care settings in which more conventional instrumentation is impractical or cost-prohibitive.