Micromachines2015, 6(9), 1249-1271; doi:10.3390/mi6091249 (registering DOI) - published 2 September 2015 Show/Hide Abstract
Abstract: Droplet-based microfluidics is a colloidal and interfacial system that has rapidly progressed in the past decade because of the advantages of low fabrication costs, small sample volumes, reduced analysis durations, high-throughput analysis with exceptional sensitivity, enhanced operational flexibility, and facile automation. This technology has emerged as a new tool for many recently used applications in molecular detection, imaging, drug delivery, diagnostics, cell biology and other fields. Herein, we review recent applications of droplet microfluidics proposed since 2013.
Micromachines2015, 6(9), 1236-1248; doi:10.3390/mi6091236 (registering DOI) - published 1 September 2015 Show/Hide Abstract
Abstract: In this paper, the piezoelectric coefficient d33 of AlN thin films for MEMS applications was studied by the piezoresponse force microscopy (PFM) measurement and finite element method (FEM) simulation. Both the sample without a top electrode and another with a top electrode were measured by PFM to characterize the piezoelectric property effectively. To obtain the numerical solution, an equivalent model of the PFM measurement system was established based on theoretical analysis. The simulation results for two samples revealed the effective measurement value d33-test should be smaller than the intrinsic value d33 due to the clamping effect of the substrate and non-ideal electric field distribution. Their influences to the measurement results were studied systematically. By comparing the experimental results with the simulation results, an experimental model linking the actual piezoelectric coefficient d33 with the measurement results d33-test was given under this testing configuration. A novel and effective approach was presented to eliminate the influences of substrate clamping and non-ideal electric field distribution and extract the actual value d33 of AlN thin films.
Micromachines2015, 6(9), 1213-1235; doi:10.3390/mi6091213 - published 26 August 2015 Show/Hide Abstract
Abstract: In this work, we investigate the interaction of a nanoparticulate system for nanomedicine applications with the biological environment, i.e., the human body. Following the molecular communication paradigm, we assess how our nanoparticulate system model is suitable for coexistence in a biological environment. Specifically, we assume the presence of the human immune system that can affect the optimal behavior of nanoparticles, aiming to locally deliver drug inside the human body. When a flow of nanoparticles is injected into the blood, the interference due to the immune system can provide a strong decrease of the nanoparticle concentration, by means of “humoral immunity”, the phagocytosis process, etc. As a consequence, the correct drug delivery will occur with a lower probability. Since the mechanism behind the biological immune system is very complicated, in this paper, we start from a simplistic nanoparticulate model, where the nanoparticles and the cells of the immune system are subject to the diffusion laws. Finally, we derive the end-to-end physical model of our nanoparticulate nanomedicine system with the presence of the human immune system cells. The error analysis is then investigated in terms of how these errors can affect the performance of the system, i.e., nanoparticle survival probability.
Micromachines2015, 6(8), 1189-1212; doi:10.3390/mi6081189 - published 24 August 2015 Show/Hide Abstract
Abstract: Fish sense water motions with their lateral line. The lateral line is a sensory system that contains up to several thousand mechanoreceptors, called neuromasts. Neuromasts occur freestanding on the skin and in subepidermal canals. We developed arrays of flow sensors based on lateral line canal neuromasts using a biomimetic approach. Each flow sensor was equipped with a PDMS (polydimethylsiloxane) lamella integrated into a canal system by means of thick- and thin-film technology. Our artificial lateral line system can estimate bulk flow velocity from the spatio-temporal propagation of flow fluctuations. Based on the modular sensor design, we were able to detect flow rates in an industrial application of tap water flow metering. Our sensory system withstood water pressures of up to six bar. We used finite element modeling to study the fluid flow inside the canal system and how this flow depends on canal dimensions. In a second set of experiments, we separated the flow sensors from the main stream by means of a flexible membrane. Nevertheless, these biomimetic neuromasts were still able to sense flow fluctuations. Fluid separation is a prerequisite for flow measurements in medical and pharmaceutical applications.
Micromachines2015, 6(8), 1180-1188; doi:10.3390/mi6081180 - published 20 August 2015 Show/Hide Abstract
Abstract: The high throughput preparation of emulsions with high internal volume fractions is important for many different applications, e.g., drug delivery. However, most emulsification techniques reach only low internal volume fractions and need stable flow rates that are often difficult to control. Here, we present a centrifugal high throughput step emulsification disk for the fast and easy production of emulsions with high internal volume fractions above 95%. The disk produces droplets at generation rates of up to 3700 droplets/s and, for the first time, enables the generation of emulsions with internal volume fractions of >97%. The coefficient of variation between droplet sizes is very good (4%). We apply our system to show the in situ generation of gel emulsion. In the future, the recently introduced unit operation of centrifugal step emulsification may be used for the high throughput production of droplets as reaction compartments for clinical diagnostics or as starting material for micromaterial synthesis.
Micromachines2015, 6(8), 1166-1179; doi:10.3390/mi6081166 - published 18 August 2015 Show/Hide Abstract
Abstract: Two novel passive micromixers, denoted as the Y-Y mixer and the H-C mixer, based on split-and-recombine (SAR) principle are studied both experimentally and numerically over Reynolds numbers ranging from 1 to 100. An image analysis technique was used to evaluate mixture homogeneity at four target areas. Numerical simulations were found to be a useful support for the design phase, since a general idea of mixing of fluids can be inferred from the segregation or the distribution of path lines. Comparison with a well-known mixer, the Tear-drop one, was also performed. Over the examined range of Reynolds numbers 1 ≤ Re ≤ 100, the Y-Y and H-C mixers showed at their exit an almost flat mixing index characteristic, with a mixing efficiency higher than 90%; conversely the Tear-drop mixer showed a relevant decrease of efficiency at mid-range. Furthermore, the Y-Y and the H-C showed significantly less pressure drop than the Tear-drop mixer.