Experimental investigations were conducted to determine the influence of polydimethylsiloxane (PDMS) microfluidic channels containing aligned circular obstacles (with diameters of 172 µm and 132 µm) on the flow velocity and pressure drop under steady-state flow conditions. A significant PDMS bulging was observed when the fluid flow initially contacted the obstacles, but this phenomenon decreased in the 1 mm length of the microfluidic channels when the flow reached a steady-state. This implies that a microfluidic device operating with steady-state flows does not provide fully reliable information, even though less PDMS bulging is observed compared to quasi steady-state flow. Numerical analysis of PDMS bulging using ANSYS Workbench showed a relatively good agreement with the measured data. To verify the influence of PDMS bulging on the pressure drop and flow velocity, theoretical analyses were performed and the results were compared with the experimental results. The measured flow velocity and pressure drop data relatively matched well with the classical prediction under certain circumstances. However, discrepancies were generated and became worse as the microfluidic devices were operated under the following conditions: (1) restricted geometry of the microfluidic channels (i.e.
, shallow channel height, large diameter of obstacles and a short microchannel length); (2) operation in quasi-steady state flow; (3) increasing flow rates; and (4) decreasing amount of curing agent in the PDMS mixture. Therefore, in order to obtain reliable data a microfluidic device must be operated under appropriate conditions.
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