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The ability to precisely control particle migration within microfluidic systems is essential for focusing, separating, counting and detecting a wide range of biological species. To date, viscoelastic microfluidic systems have primarily been applied to the focusing, separation and isolation of micron-sized species, with their use in nanoparticle manipulations being underdeveloped and underexplored, due to issues related to nanoparticle diffusivity and a need for extended channel lengths. To overcome such issues, we herein present sheathless oscillatory viscoelastic microfluidics as a method for focusing and separating both micron and sub-micron species. To highlight the efficacy of our approach, we segment our study into three size regimes, namely micron (where characteristic particle dimensions are above 1 µm), sub-micron (where characteristic dimensions are between 1 µm and 100 nm) and nano (where characteristic dimensions are below 100 nm) regimes. Based on the ability to successfully manipulate particles in all these regimes, we demonstrate the successful isolation of p-bodies from biofluids (in the micron regime), the focusing of λ-DNA (in the sub-micron regime) and the focusing of extracellular vesicles (in the nano-regime). Finally, we characterize the physics underlying viscoelastic microflows using a dimensionless number that relates the lateral velocity (due to elastic effects) to the diffusion constant of the species within the viscoelastic carrier fluid. Based on the ability to precisely manipulate species in all three regimes, we expect that sheathless oscillatory viscoelastic microfluidics may be used to good effect in a range of biological and life science applications.
This article was published in the following journal.
Name: ACS nano
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