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Pinched Flow Fractionation:  Continuous Size Separation of Particles Utilizing a Laminar Flow Profile in a Pinched Microchannel

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posted on 15.09.2004, 00:00 by Masumi Yamada, Megumi Nakashima, Minoru Seki
A concept of “pinched flow fractionation” for the continuous size separation and analysis of particles in microfabricated devices has been proposed and demonstrated. In this method, particles suspended in liquid were continuously introduced into a microchannel having a pinched segment and were aligned to one sidewall in the pinched segment by another liquid flow without particles. The particles were then separated perpendicularly to the flow direction according to their sizes by the spreading flow profile inside the microchannel. Polymer microbeads were successfully separated, and the effects of the flow rate and channel shapes on the separation performance were examined. Also, separated particles were collected independently by making branches at the end of the pinched segment. Since this method utilizes only the laminar flow profile inside a microchannel, complicated outer field control could be eliminated, which is usually required for other kinds of particle separation methods such as field flow fractionation. Also, this method can be applied both for particle size analysis and for preparation of monodispersed particles, since separation can be rapidly and continuously performed.