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Modeling Inertial Focusing in Straight and Curved Microfluidic Channels

J. Martel[1], N. Elabbasi[2], D. Quinn[2], J. Bergstrom[2], M. Toner[1]
[1]BioMEMS Resource Center, Massachusetts General Hospital, Boston, MA, USA
[2]Veryst Engineering, Needham, MA, USA

Inertial focusing is a promising microfluidic technique for separating and concentrating cells of interest, processes routinely utilized in many medical procedures. This phenomenon is characterized by suspended particles in a flow spontaneously migrating across streamlines to equilibrium positions within a channel cross-section. We developed CFD models in COMSOL Multiphysics® to predict the equilibrium locations of the particles and their variation with flow parameters and geometry. The simulation results illustrate the dependence of the equilibrium positions on the channel curvature. The ability to rapidly iterate through design changes and build a comprehensive theory for inertial focusing behavior will save experimental time as well as guide the design and optimization of life-saving diagnostic devices.