Microfluidics can be broadly characterized as the investigation and use of fluid-related phenomena with relevant length scales ranging from 1 – 1000 microns. Numerical simulation of microfluidics phenomena range from fundamental academic research to development and design of commercial products. Notable commercial applications include inkjet print heads, genomic and proteomic chips, chemical laboratories on a chip, cell sorters, and many others.
Because of the small length scales associated with microfluidic devices, magnetic and electrical fields can be used to drive fluid motion. Direct actuation of fluid motion can be achieved through electroosmosis, electrothermal effects, or electrokinetic instabilities. Particles and cells can be driven using acoustophoresis, electrophoresis or dielectrophoresis (DEP).
An industrial example will be discussed where multiphysics simulations are used to analyze fluid motion in the world’s fastest valve. This valve is being commercialized for cell sorting by Owl Biomedical, located in Goleta.
Dr. Carl Meinhart is a professor of Mechanical Engineering at the University of California – Santa Barbara. He obtained his PhD from the University of Illinois in 1995. Since coming to UCSB in 1996, his research has focused on developing microfluidic devices and investigating their fundamental transport mechanisms. Dr. Meinhart is a fellow of the American Physics Society.