Microfluidics has gained a lot of attention for biological sample separation and purification methods over recent years. From many active and passive microfluidic techniques, inertial microfluidics offers a simple and efficient method to demonstrate various biological applications. One prevalent limitation of this method is its lack of tunability for different applications once the microfluidic devices are fabricated. In this work, we develop and characterize a co-flow inertial microfluidic device that is tunable in multiple ways for adaptation to different application requirements. In particular, flow rate, flow rate ratio and output resistance ratio are systematically evaluated for flexibility of the cutoff size of the device and modification of the separation performance post-fabrication. Typically, a mixture of single size particles is used to determine cutoff sizes for the outlets, yet this fails to provide accurate prediction for efficiency and purity for a more complex biological sample. Thus, we use particles with continuous size distribution (2–32 μm) for separation demonstration under conditions of various flow rates, flow rate ratios and resistance ratios. We also use A549 cancer cell line with continuous size distribution (12–27 μm) as an added demonstration. Our results indicate inertial microfluidic devices possess the tunability that offers multiple ways to improve device performance for adaptation to different applications even after the devices are prototyped.
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